Kagome Chicken Doria (236 calories)
As part of my attempts to review instant or frozen food on occasion, I picked up these shelf stable "heat and eat" meals at Seiyu supermarket on sale for 198 yen ($2.16). There are several of these in a line by Kagome geared toward weight-conscious women. That's why the calorie information is displayed so prominently on the front of the boxes. These boast not only low calorie counts, but some added fiber through the use of a barley and rice mixture. I chose the "chicken doria" because I have a fond experience with that dish from a local restaurant, and the tomato curry because, well, it's curry.
Both of these dishes have a bowl with a bit under a cup of grain in the bottom and foil packets that contain sauces. The Doria has separate mixtures for white sauce and red sauce. In the end, you mix it all together anyway so I don't quite understand the point of the separation. I'm guessing it's for aesthetic reasons. The tomato curry had one large foil pack only.
Going into sampling these, I knew I would try them alone once, and then I would augment them with leftover chicken breast. These sorts of meals are not well-known for their high protein content. I started with the chicken doria which had microscopic bits of tomato, the odd rare crumb of carrot, and tiny little bits of chicken mince. The red sauce with chicken smells like tomato and not much else. the white sauce has a bit of a dog-food/canned food type of smell. It was not encouraging.
This didn't taste like not much of anything. There's some very mild tomato juice flavor and ever so vague hints of some sort of cheese. You have to strain to taste it though. In fact, I'd recommend invoking the power of imagination and hope that you can turn your desire for cheese taste into reality through the power of your mind. I couldn't taste chicken at all. It's also one of those prepared foods that has a lot of sodium, 350 mg., but you still need to add salt to it to taste anything.
The texture was rather gelatinous. You can tell the sauce is mainly made with cornstarch. While the rice is not bad at all and is relatively firm and decent, good pre-made rice is really not hard to come by in Japan.
This was palatable only because I added 90 grams of leftover chicken breast to it and the rice was fine with it. The sauce mainly added some moisture and texture. I was very disappointed in this and probably wouldn't have eaten it all if I hadn't already mixed the chicken in with it and had nothing else to really consume.
The Chicken Doria gets a well-deserved:
Spicy Tomato Curry (235 calories)
After my experience with the Chicken Doria, I had even lower expectations of this. I felt a bit more hopeful after I opened the sauce packet and smelled it. The aroma was about what one would expect of spicy curry and tomato. You can see how little I expect of these things when they end up smelling like they should and I'm pleasantly surprised.
The base component of this was similar to the chicken doria version. The plastic bowl has about three-quarters of a cup of rather dry rice and barley with a foil packet of sauce. After squeezing the sauce onto the rice mixture, I put it in the microwave with the lid on as instructed and the lid blew off about 1 minute and 15 seconds into the process. Curry bubbled up and splattered on the edges of the bowl before I could stop it.
I took it out and gave it a stir and noticed that it was very, very soupy. The rice seemed rather dry at first, but the texture improved after it sat for about 5 minutes. There are small blobs of soft tomato in the sauce, and no other detectable vegetables. I sampled it as is and it is not bad at all. It's nicely spicy in terms of warmth and intensity of tomato flavor. The curry flavors are rather muted, but it's really rather piquant. It's just a bit salty, but not in a too overbearing manner.
After a taste of the curry "as is", I added 85 grams (3 oz.) of leftover chopped, cooked chicken breast and stirred it in. Because there is a lot more sauce than necessary, this worked quite well. There was more than enough sauce to coat the chicken and the combination was very good. I didn't need to add salt to the bland chicken because the sauce is spicy enough to cover.
I actually liked this. If I were inclined to pick up a prepared meal to avoid preparing all of the components, I'd definitely buy this again. For this sort of food, this was pretty good and the low calorie count (235 calories alone, 372 with the added chicken) is appealing. It's not stellar, but it is tasty enough to be worthwhile, especially if you have no time to cook.