omsom saucy noodles lead cnnu.jpg

Noodles are the perfect food, and that’s the hill I will die on. They’re versatile enough to adopt any type of flavor profile, slide down so easily you barely need to chew (oops) and generally take minutes to make.

That’s why I was so thrilled when Omsom decided to send its noods — ahem, I mean Saucy Noodles — the brand’s newest culinary offering and first departure from the meal starters that made them famous. As one of our favorite food brands, I had high expectations. Here’s exactly what I thought and whether you should add them to your cart.

Omsom's new Saucy Noodles are a time- and money-saving meal hack that can help you cut down on your food delivery app spending. There are currently four flavors to choose from: Soy Garlic, Coconut Lemongrass Curry, Garlic Black Pepper and Chili Sesame, available in packs of eight for $39, or opt for the sampler to try them all.

What is Omsom?

Vanessa and Kim Pham, first-generation daughters of Vietnamese refugees, founded direct-to-consumer brand Omsom as a way to celebrate their heritage and return to their roots through food. Omsom translates directly to “rowdy” (which is “most often used by parents [hint: ours] to scold unruly, raucous children in the back of the car”) and we can see that lively theme displayed proudly through the brand’s bold flavors, conversational and engaging marketing materials (seriously, can I be friends with them?), buzzy celebrity partnerships and cool brand crossovers.

The brand’s first release in 2020 was starters, or sauce packets, that home chefs could then incorporate into to their own meals for instant Asian flair: You have your Southeast Asian Omsom Sampler featuring two each of Vietnamese, Thai and Filipino starters, and the East Asian Omsom Sampler complete with two each of Japanese, Korean and Chinese starters, allowing you to eat your way around the world without a plane ticket or revisit your roots in a single bite. Once you’ve identified your favorite flavors, you can also purchase them individually.

Building on its starter kit repertoire, Omsom launched Saucy Noodle kits designed in collaboration with renowned Asian chefs that include a packet of sauce and air-dried, knife-shaved wheat noodles. There are currently four flavors to choose from: Soy Garlic, Coconut Lemongrass Curry, Garlic Black Pepper and Chili Sesame, available in packs of eight for $39 (about $4.88 per box). Or opt for the Saucy Noodle Sampler at $49 for 10 boxes to try them all — it includes three Coconut Lemongrass Curry boxes, three Soy Garlic boxes, two Garlic Black Pepper boxes and two Chili Sesame boxes. My husband and I, a chef from Pakistan, got to put them to the taste test.

Initial thoughts

omsom noodles at home cnnu.jpg

If you know how to boil a packet of noodles and mix in a packet of sauce, you’re in for a gourmet takeout-worthy meal every night of the week. Because my husband and I are both certified personal trainers and self-professed “gym bros” in that we try to hit our macronutrients with every meal, we started by boiling the noodles and incorporating shrimp and mixed veggies into the mix. We were left with a meal that bordered on dry and flavorless only because the added food absorbed too much of the sauce content. Lesson learned! The following day, we cooked the noodles and sauce on their own, and afterward added our protein and veg. Here, the proportions were, as some might say, *chef’s kiss*. Had I tried to DIY a similar sauce or marinade, it would have taken me far too long and I probably would have had to swing by a specialty grocery store to acquire the right ingredients.

What we liked about it

omsom noodles dry cnnu.jpg

Each flavor packet is a whole experience, and I like that it displays the spice level right on the packaging so you know what you’re in for. On our first round of testing, we started with the Garlic Black Pepper (zero spice) and Chili Sesame (all the spice). I grew up in a family of ghost pepper eaters, so I know spice when I taste it — this boasted a perfect level of kick that can make the average eater sweat from their temples, but it was exhilarating enough to excite someone who adds hot sauce to every meal. This one, the Chili Sesame, came out a little drier than the non-spicy Garlic Black Pepper only because we added around three tablespoons of water to the mix to the latter while sautéing. The result was a super-moist bowl of noodles that, surprisingly, gave the look and texture of creamy alfredo perfect for an indulgent weeknight meal. While I opted to use ingredients in my fridge before they went bad like broccoli, scallions and bell peppers, you can totally check the back of each carton for inspiration on how to top your noodles in a way that feels more authentic to the specific dish, like chicken, fried egg, cilantro, green beans and chili on the Soy Garlic variation.

It’s no secret that waiting for water to boil on the stove can feel like watching paint dry when you want your noodles, like, yesterday. I’m a microwave devotee, and I can’t tell you how much it pleases me that the noodles — both Soy Garlic and Coconut Lemongrass Curry — came out perfectly tender without losing their structure after six minutes flat in the microwave. I was shocked at how well the Coconut Lemongrass Curry mimicked an exact dish I ate in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a few years ago. It really is impressive how the brand managed to use the sense of taste to transport me back to a special memory caged away in my brain.

Now for the noodles: Each noodle kit suggests two servings per package, but with noodles this bouncy, chewy and flat-out luxurious, you, like me, will probably want the whole thing for yourself. I have actual dreams about pad see ew noodles several times a year, and these are a spin-off of that with their wide and curly shape that yields such a satisfying bite while holding onto all the sauce in its crevices.

My husband is by no means a picky eater, but as a chef whose favorite thing to cook in the world is noodles, he does have quite a discerning palate. “Can we have these every night?” he said with puppy dog eyes. Point taken.

What I didn’t like about it

When you’re going to call something “saucy noodles,” I expect it to be drenched to the nines in sauce. I was excited about that prospect, but it wasn’t quite the case. If you’re watching, say, your sodium, you might appreciate that the noodles contain a baseline amount of sauce to cover each noodle, but nothing more. That said, the sodium is exorbitantly high at half your day’s worth for the Garlic Black Pepper variation (and around half that or less for the other flavors), so if you have the whole kit to yourself, that’s your entire day’s worth of sodium right there. I say this not to be a fear monger, but it is well documented that high sodium intake is linked to a host of health issues like cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, so I would suggest these noodle kits as a once-in-a-while treat as opposed to an everyday meal solution.

Bottom line

omsom lifestyle 2 cnnu.jpg

If you’ve been racking up Uber Eats bills ordering your favorite takeout every night, you’ll soon become obsessed with this time- and money-saving meal hack that’ll take you right back to your trip backpacking Asia, or get you excited about booking another one. It’s been days since I’ve taken my last bite, and like pad see ew, I can expect Saucy Noodles, too, to enter my dream roster several times a year.