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Serving Size: 168 grams
Calories Per Serving: 640
Servings Per Container: 1 (although easily shareable)
Recommneded Soak Time: 10-12 minutes
Retail Price: $11.95 at time of publishing
What We Liked
- Very hearty meal
- Ranks high on satiation
What We Didn't Like
– Unappealing texture
– Muddled flavor
HIKEFULL Alpine Aire Grilled Chicken Pad Thai Review
Lake Sherwood, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. Elevation 3675′
Pecos Wilderness, New Mexico. Elevation 1160′
Bre: I spent the afternoon hiking the perimeter of Lake Sherwood in West Virginia, working up a respectable hunger. Once cooked, opening the bag was promising. A spicy and sweat aroma steamed forth. Specks of green herbs and red chili pepper coated the noodles in a way that suggested a flavorful journey. Would this fulfill the promise?
Chad: While out in the Pecos Wilderness, we stopped for lunch in the shade by a small creek. We too had been excited to try this Pad Thai. After 15 min we opened the bag and were greeted by that same hallmark aroma of Thai cuisine. The appearance of herbs and peppers made for an appealing aesthetic. This actually smells and looks like Pad Thai!
Mike: I was with Bre for the Hike at Lake Sherwood. I had just taken a post-hike jump into the lake and was sitting in a shaded spot enjoying a cold lager. I had changed into flipflops and a hammock swung nearby. It was one of those exceedingly hot days for the Allegheny Highlands, and if I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine I was chilling on some beach in Thailand. I eagerly anticipated making the illusion complete with a few bites of Pad Thai!
Mike: Oh, the flavor. Where to start? First thing, I found this dish to be so potently flavored and/or salty that it has a scalding effect. The intensity seems to blow-out my taste buds to the point where this dish actually tastes like nothing at all. For Pad Thai I would expect a balance of sweat, sour, spicy, and salty. This dish has the salt but none of the other. Ingredient wise, there is a lot going on here. Between the shallot, garlic, ginger, onion, cilantro, nothing seems to stand out. Instead, it all amounts to an overblown muddled taste.
CHAD: The Flavor (yes, capital “F”) is strong with this one but, but as you point out Mike, it is not very complex. Good for a satisfying trail meal? Yes! Does it taste like Pad Thai? Not really. Pretty salty with a little spice. Not much in the way of Thai flavors like Tamarind or citrus.
BRE: I would agree that it tastes a little muddled. I would also add pungent and slightly bitter. There is also a strong, smokey quality in every bite.
MIKE: For there being three types of peanuts listed in the ingredient, I taste no peanut. Same story with coconut, which is a listed ingredient. Also, I can’t help but notice the complete absence of tamarind in the ingredients.
BRE: Hmm, I am tasting a moderate peanut flavor. Onions too. There is a lot of onion flavor going on. Rounding it all out is the spice, which is pretty low and lingers on the tongue just a minute.
MIKE: Agreed on the spice. After the initial firehose of salt and flavor, there is only a subtle afterburn from the spice.
MIKE: First thought upon digging into this was “these are not rice noodles.” Not only are they not rice noodles, they have hydrated into mush. The effect being a kind of Asian inspired noodle casserole, punctuated by chicken nubs about the same size as popcorn kernels.
BRE: Yes, the noodles became really soft. I also found the chicken pieces to be small and also dry in the center. It’s maybe the onions or the chilis, but there is a nice crunch in there somewhere.
CHAD: I’m a little more forgiving here: the noodle texture here is about what you’d expect from some instant noodles. Yes, they are pretty thin but not necessarily mushy. Maybe you guys let your bag hydrate longer? Maybe it was your low elevation? At 11,000 ft, my noodles were just about right. I actually enjoyed the texture of the veggies and it added some balance to the soft noodles. The chicken was just okay, however.
MIKE: On a blind taste test, I do not know I would identify this as Pad Thai. To be honest, I do not know that I would identify this as food at all. Sorry, I just had a hard time choking this down. For those reasons, I hesitate to recommend.
BRE: There is a lot going on in this bag, but it doesn’t amount to a Pad Thai experience. I am missing Pad Thai’s interplay of sweet and sour in this meal. The flavors here are kind of stuck in neutral, which is also a good way to describe how I feel about this dish – overall just kind of neutral.
CHAD: This meal is hard pressed to be called Pad Thai. But at the end of the day what matters most to me is the satiation of the meal. This meal satisfies on the “give me food now I’m Hungry” level but if you are shelling out hard earned money to be fancy in the backcountry this one may fall short.
FINAL VERDICT: TRY FOR YOURSELF