Friday, November 25, 2016

The Instant Pancit Canton Duel: Lucky Me vs Payless

Back in September, came out with the story "Instant Pancit Canton Wars: Which Noodles Did We Go Gaga Over?," which pitted three instant pancit canton brands against one another, namely Lucky Me!, Nissin Yakisoba and Payless. Citing its "value for money," the Payless Xtra Big was named by as its winner.

Now, here's the thing: I disagree with the result. I like to think of myself as an instant pancit canton connoisseur because it happens to be my midnight snack of choice whenever I'm writing something--like right now, as I write this--and since I've tried all three brands and their different flavors, I feel that I need to chime in with my opinion.

First off, I have a disclaimer: I don't completely follow the instructions at the back of the packages when I cook my instant pancit canton because I find that cooking the noodles in boiling water makes them soft and soggy, even for the scant three minutes or so stated on the pack. Personally, I prefer the noodles to be firm to add some texture as I slurp them down. Instead, once I see that the required amount of water is boiling, I quickly place the noodles in the pot, put the cover on it, and turn off the stove. I then occasionally stir the noodles so that it uniformly gets cooked in the hot water before I strain them out of the pot. I then immediately wash the noodles down with tap water to cool them and stop the cooking process and toss the noodles around in the strainer to remove as much of the water as possible before I put them in the bowl where I pre-mixed the included flavor powder, soy sauce, and oil while the noodles were being cooked.

So, now that I've cleared that up, here my opinion on both the Lucky Me! Instant Pancit Canton Big and the Payless Pancit Canton Xtra Big.

Lucky Me! Instant Pancit Canton Big

There's a reason why Lucky Me! Instant Pancit Canton is the leading brand and that's because it tastes good. The packaging may have grown from the old 60g pack to the current 80g but that's a good thing because before that happened, I always had to cook two--sometimes even three!--packs just to sate my hunger. With the bigger packaging though, I'm back down to one pack... unless I'm really hungry.

What's nice about Lucky Me!'s noodles is that they're thick and flat which further enhances the texture I get by cooking them my way. And while laments that the sauce pack remains the same size--can someone from Lucky Me! care to confirm or deny this???--it's a problem that's easily remedied by adding half a teaspoon or more of soy sauce from your pantry.

Payless Pancit Canton Xtra Big

At 130g, the Payless Pancit Canton Xtra Big is almost twice the size of Lucky Me!'s but that's about the only thing it has going for it. Also, the oil in the sauce pack seems to be frozen solid every time I open up a pack which is completely opposite from the one in Lucky Me!.

As for the noodles, they're on the thin side so you'll have to shovel more into your mouth to taste more of the flavor, and at 130g, it's no surprise that you'll find yourself full in the end.

The Verdict:

Despite its smaller size, or perhaps because of it, my choice is the  Lucky Me! Instant Pancit Canton Big. Sorry but's argument that Payless wins because of its "value for money" is a sad and sorry one.

As a colleague once put it, there are two ways to be satisfied by food: you feel good because you ate a lot or you feel good because the food tastes really good. The Payless Pancit Canton Xtra Big is the former; you're battered to submission because you're eating 130g of noodles, not to mention that the flavor is on the bland side. On the other hand, Lucky Me! is the latter because the soy sauce and flavor powder combo is great with the right touch of saltiness, plus the thicker noodles is the perfect medium to transport the said flavor onto your palate.

Perhaps I'll update this next time by adding the Nissin Yakisoba. So until then...

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