Vifon Hủ tiếu nam vang (“Phnom Penh” Style Rice Noodle)

I like a lot of Vifon’s products — I’ve enjoyed their porridge, and I remember this one being a pleasingly garlicky soup, so when it showed up on a shopping trip for less than $1 per bowl, I snapped it up.

Subjective snapshot

Quality: 3.5/5 stars
Spiciness: 0/5 chilis

Review

It’s not quite as garlicky as I remember, and they’ve added little globules of TVP which don’t actually do much for the soup, but this one’s quite recommendable it. The rice noodles cook up wonderfully, and are much tastier than the more traditional noodle-cup freeze-dried muck. Even thoguh it’s weaker than I remember, the broth is still assertive and rich. My only real complaint would be that this soup tends towards the thin side: I make it with less water for a richer flavor and for a less empty-looking bowl: the TVP bits don’t really bulk the soup up in any real way.

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Vifon Cháo Thịt Gà (Artificial Chicken Porridge)

I got a 6-pack of this at the same time as the Cháo Cá, because I’d never had it before.

Subjective snapshot

Quality: 1.5/5 stars
Spiciness: 0/5 chilis

Review

I had high hopes after their excellent fish porridge, but this one is actually pretty unimpressive. The “chicken” is onion-flavored TVP, which is texturally and flavorwise a bit unsetting, and the overall flavor is a bit too much of salt and onion; there’s not much ginger or any of the other flavors that made the cháo cá so pleasant.
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Vifon Cháo Cá (Fish Instant Porridge)

I’ve had this before, but I’m always on the lookout to get it for under $1 per bowl, because it’s enjoyable enough to be worth it.

Subjective snapshot

Quality: 3.5/5 stars
Spiciness: 1/5 chilis

Review

Porridge doesn’t get much respect as a lunch in America, but this stuff is unusually good and well-balanced. Instant-rice isn’t quite as satisfactory texturewise as stuff that’s actually properly cooked, but they make up for it in this presentation with lots of excellent flavor. The strongest note is of ginger, unsurprisingly due to the ginger powder and freeze-dried ginger in the packets, and a second spice edge comes from the pepper this is amply provided (but in a separate packet, so you can use less or none if you wish). But the fish carries its weight pretty well too — the chunks of fish in the foil packet have a consistency akin to tinned fish, and while they’re not quite up to par with fresh fish, they add the right fishy notes to this porridge. Unless you’re averse to the idea of a rice-soup instead of a noodle soup, or violently dislike ginger or fish, this is a very nice one to try out. I advise filling it to a little ways below the interior “edge”, as that makes for a thicker and richer soup.

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