I’m always keen to try new quick and healthy lunch options, so when Itsu – who are dedicated to heathier food and are part of the same family as Pret A Manger and Metcalfes – asked if I wanted to test out their new Crystal Noodle Cups, of course I said yes…
Noodles sold in pots are nothing new for Itsu, who have shops in London, Brighton and Oxford and are rumoured to be opening a branch in Bristol in the future. They already sell ramen noodle soup, alongside a range of other products which can be bought online at Ocado or in-store at Waitrose (I love their chocolate-covered rice cakes!) These new Crystal Noodle Cups, however, are a little different: each of the three varieties uses gluten-free noodles, and with only 160-186 calories per pot (depending on the flavour), they’re a good lunch option for the health-conscious.
Each of the three varieties – Chicken Jaipur, Vegetable Festival and Chicken Classic – is packaged beautifully, with the Itsu branding coming through strongly. The clear windowed lid allows the contents to be seen before buying, and the contents themselves are a world away from other instant noodle cups that are available in supermarkets.
Opening up the pot, you’re faced with a small nest of noodles, a bright pink spork and a sachet of paste that forms the basis for your soup. All you need to do is to empty the noodles and paste into the cup, add boiling water until the cup is three quarters full and then leave to stand for three minutes before stirring. Itsu also suggest that you could add your choice of cooked meat, fish or vegetables if you’re looking for a lunch with a little more substance.
So…my verdict? All three were very different. I loved the noodles – they had a great consistency – but the spork was a little irritating – it was far too big to reach the bottom of the cup, and didn’t perform that well in terms of picking up the noodles. They were more filling than I expected them to be, though – not bad for so few calories! These could be a good choice for those who are following the 5:2 diet.
The Chicken Jaipur was probably my favourite – an Indian-style soup that had high levels of spice. It may be worth Itsu letting people know on the packaging that it’s not the mildest choice! The Vegetable Festival option was a bit surprising, as I was expecting more of an Asian-style soup: instead, with its strong red pepper smell and rich and warming flavours, it tastes far more Western to me.
I personally felt that the Chicken Classic was a little disappointing. Smelling strongly of chicken, the promised “chicken, lemongrass and coconut flavour soup” didn’t really deliver: the lemongrass flavour came through slightly, but the coconut was non-existent. It was a little too sweet and acidic for my taste, and the paste didn’t seem to mix in as well as the others. A shame.
The Itsu Crystal Noodle Cups have a four month shelf life, and are perfect for those looking to take something quick, easy and filling into work with them. With an RRP of £2.29, they’re not too badly priced either – and you’ll find them on sale at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
Please note: these items were received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the company did not see this review before it was put up on the site.