Hey guys! Bet you thought this blog was going to be about the best noodles I could find (I am a food blogger and ramen enthusiast, after all). Ha! Fooled ya! The very first ramen of my month-long quest for noodles was not a giant bowl of swoon-inducingly rich broth filled with chewy, homemade noodles and melt-in-your-mouth charsiu, but rather this grossly overpriced serving of chicken flavour instant cup noodles on my Jetstar flight from the Gold Coast to Tokyo.
I didn’t plan on this; I’m not even in Japan yet as I write this, so I’m not even sure if it counts. But hey – it’s day 1 of my trip, and I just so happened to have some noodles – here we are.
After a rather shocking experience a couple years ago where I paid $18 for something purporting to be chicken curry, I tend to pack my own meals when flying Jetstar long haul. This time I’d packed a couple of onigiri and thought I’d supplement it with with some takeaway airport food before boarding my flight to Tokyo.
Except I’d kind of forgotten what a human hamster cage the Gold Coast international transit lounge is: all glass-walled, so you can see the other (admittedly not that exciting) food options in the rest of the terminal, but the only option available to passengers trapped in transit is a bleak airport caf serving up limp roast beef sandwiches, pallid ham and cheese croissants, sorry-looking chicken wraps with dried-out, inflexible tortilla outers.
I had a couple hours to kill in that transit lounge, and such was my hunger (the onigiri had disappeared on the flight to the Gold Coast) that I stood in that line a number of times before thinking better and sitting back down. A fruitless, frustrating exercise (and I observed with interest several other people doing the same).
So I got on the plane hungry and painfully aware I didn’t even have with me any snacks, unless you count the Whittaker’s chocolate I’d stashed in my carryon bag as gifts for people in Japan. And I did what any reasonable person in my situation (ravenous but conscious of spending money)
would do: pick the cheapest, most filling option. Which at $5AUD was a plastic cup full of instant noodles.
It was delivered by the flight attendant in an instant, already filled with water and the foil lid peeled back. Spongy bits of de-and-then-re-hydrated chicken floated on top. The scantly numbered corn kernels bobbing up amongst the tangle of cardboard-y noodles (oh, I’ll get to that) seemed to fare a bit better given this treatment. Towards the bottom of the plastic cup, paper-thin flakes of carrot, cabbage, spring onion and spinach suddenly appeared, providing some visual variation, if nothing else.
The noodles were flat and curly, about 2mm thick, reminiscent of moistened shredded cardboard but also not altogether unpleasant – probably something to do with subconscious nostalgia for the instant noodles I ate as a kid.
The broth was all salt and msg and got a little intense, almost metallic tasting at the end, my lips went all tingly and dehydrated. But it was the only thing I’d be eating for the next eight hours, so I finished every last drop.
The next half hour of the flight I felt slightly queasy and had to put down my book and stare out the window at the glimmering aquamarine jewels of the Great Barrier reef some 36,000 feet below. Tough life, I know.