Having written about ITC’s Sunfeast Yippee when it launched (with 2 flavors), it is only fair that I write a follow-up now. Yes, there’s a new variant in Yippee now – Chinese Masala!

I assume this is a Bangalore-centric trial launch for this new flavor – that too, Big Bazaar-only launch, going by how this new variant is available only in Big Bazaar and not in any other store (as far as I have seen).

There was a co-branded (Yippee + Big Bazaar) advertisement in Bangalore Times on Friday (March 29, 2013) and I got thoroughly excited, along with my son, in the prospect of trying out a new flavor… as fans of the other two flavors.

Off we went to nearby Big Bazaar that evening to buy it. It was stuffed in multiple shelves all across Big Bazaar and with multiple POP displays. They even had a few folks cooking it live and asking people to try, as is norm with new stuff like this.

We tried it on Saturday for breakfast. The texture is good ol’ Yippee and the taste is very good too! Having tried almost every instant noodle brand (and variant) in the Indian market, I’m surprised at Sunfeast’s choice of 3rd flavor.

From a very personal point of view, here’s how the instant noodles market stacks up in India.

1. Nestle – Maggi. Rules the roost. They did introduce new variants like Tomato and Curry, but both fall short in terms of taste. Masala still is the best and I haven’t tried Chicken, being a vegetarian (snigger), so I can’t comment on it. They did have a super Lasagna flavor years ago and I have written about it in the past!

2. GlaxoSmithKline – Horlicks Foodles. This has been an iffy experience right from day one. There are way too many flavors and variants and all the packs almost look similar. So, even my relatively manageable ‘ala masala’ is difficult to find in the store shelf.

3. Hindustan Unilever – Knorr Soupy Noodles. Utterly non-descript, in terms of taste, for me. I have tried all flavors multiple times and find myself unable to return to this brand.

4. Capital Foods – Smith & Jones. Considering I’m a big fan of Smith & Jones Tomato Chilli sauce, I had high hopes from their instant noodles. But all three flavors – Manchurian, Hot Garlic and Schezwan – are disappointing, to say the least. Personally, I find them too harsh for my breakfast’y comfort.

5. Ching’s Secret. Similar experience as Smith & Jones. In fact, I have difficulty in distinguishing this from Smith & Jones’ range, partly because the variants’ names are similar – Schezwan, Hot Garlic, Manchurian and Chicken Roast Garlic. See the first 3 flavors? Ditto! However, my favorite brand of instant soup is from Ching’s Secret – this is their new range that offers 5 variants (Tomato, Manchow, Hot & Sour, Sweet Corn and Mix Veg.) and comes with the ‘Hunger Ki Bajao’ line. It is consistently very good!

6. Chaudhary Group – Wai Wai. This is that Nepali brand that we Indians have been consuming since time immemorial! Wai Wai’s Maggi knock-off, called Xpress noodles is terrible (they call it white noodles), but their brown noodles is fantastic. This is the same thing that comes with 3 taste-makers – 2 powders and a pack of liquid onion something! This is something that you can eat it as-is… raw! Wai Wai brown is the other brand, besides Maggi and Yippee, that I come back to often.

7. Nissin – Top Ramen. The Sania-driven Maggi knock-offs just don’t work for me. The flat noodles with curry flavor is the onle one that I find palatable, but you just can’t beat their original Cup Noodles. Both original variants – Mast Masala and Vegetable – are very, very good. I get them often and making them is a breeze too. Their new additions are terrible, however – the variants like Manchurian, Tomato and PaniPuri. Also, I find their Mug Noodles marginally better than Knorr’s Soupy Noodles that people still haven’t decided whether they want to drink and eat, or eat and drink, if you go by their advertising indecision.

Amidst this, I was very surprised to see Yippee launching Chinese Masala as their 3rd flavor. I’d have expected them to launch a non-vegetarian flavor next given that they already have cornered a decent market size with 2 masala variants. The fact that they opted for Chinese Masala could indicate two things that may have come out in their research – that Chinese flavor variants (completely dominated by Smith & Jones and Ching’s Secret, for now) is doing well and Yippee is looking to corner a pie from this segment. Second, it is possible that the non-vegetarian variants are perhaps not that big a segment at all.

So, what next? A Chinese flavored variant from Maggi? Interesting times ahead in the Rs.3,000 crores noodles market in India.

Is Yippee Chinese Masala flavor available in your city yet? If yes, try it and let me know what you think of it!

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