Pre-made Noodle Testing Lab: Part 1
The beauty of Hong Kong...
is that there are a ton of Asian noodle varieties to work from on the aisles of each super market if you don't decide to make it yourself. If you want fresh, you can also get the choice of buying that too. One of the best part of each outdoor wet market is that there is always a noodle shop usually selling the common egg noodle (蛋麵), shrimp noodle (蝦子麵), flat noodle (河粉), vermicelli (米粉), etc.
In the recent years a lot of these noodle shops have also diversified into making a many more varieties, which even included making ramen noodles. I fell upon a few shops that provided that and it was so good to know that if I didn't want to make it, there was always another option! This test was to see which pre-made options would be compatible with the chicken broth I previously made, and which could hold it own while drowning in a shoyu base.
Ramen noodles are usually made with a slight alkaline base which gives it the bounce and chew, along with a slight savoury upper once placed in ramen broth. In many cases Chinese noodles are also the perfect type of noodles to work with in terms of compatibility.
With my first test I heated up the leftover broth I froze from my last recipe I whipped enough to test with one bowl. From the choices of noodles this time I decided to try Marks & Spencer Fine Egg Noodles (they also make a thick egg noodle), Cheung Wing Kee Chicken Noodles (張榮記), and a local fresh noodle store called You Kee (有記粉麵廠).
1. Marks and Spencer Fine Egg Noodles
You would have least expected this fine retailer from the UK to have such a product, but they do! It was also a surprise that it was quite well done for a "Western" choice. I didn't even expect to have this on the list but I was browsing their aisles to find this there. The chew and texture was perfect, though taste wise a little too heavy on the alkaline taste, and couldn't hold up the shoyu base. Maybe on my next chance I'll buy their thick egg noodle version to see if that's any better.
2. Cheung Wing Kee Chicken Noodles (張榮記)
One day I was browsing the online shop Zstore. Zstore is known to sell a lot of local HK products. I somehow landed on the Noodles & Pasta section to have found this chicken noodle. When I read the contents of ingredients I got very excited since it was made especially for chicken broth, and also seemingly had the right amount of lye, sodium carbonate, and wheat. Sadly once I got the product I realised it was too thin for this this soup base. It couldn't hold it's own at all. Noodle got too soggy quickly and there was no chew to it. It was no loss though, I guess I'll be using this for clear Chinese chicken broth/stir-fry instead.
3. You Kee (有記粉麵廠)
While I went on a baking supply run and was close by Causeway Bay, I thought I might as well drop by the fresh noodle store in the area. In a little nook of the wall there was a hole of a shop, common of some of HK most popular shops. There was already a line by the time I got there and it was only 12pm! So I quickly lined up and decided I'd look at what they have as I got closer to the counter. I saw that it said Japanese Style Ramen. I did see one other ramen choice, but I opted for what seemed to be the obvious. The texture was spot on. Thick enough to grab just enough soup. BUT there was one sad part of it, there was no wheat taste, neither was there that slight sodium carbonate or alkaline that made the chew. This lead me to believe either the lady gave me Shanghai style noodles instead, or if what I assume is correct this was the Chinese style of "Japanese" ramen.
When I went on their website to see I was surprised that they sold Kyushu style ramen, Okinawa style, and also their own You Kee signature ramen. I guess next time I'm going to have to go earlier to chat with the lady. I felt pressured as there was a long line behind me leading my palms to sweat, making sure I spoke fast enough making me stutter in Cantonese, and allowing my introverted anxiousness to reveal itself.
This is not the end of pre-made noodle testing. It definitely will stop for a while since this is a lot of carbs and I'm only one little lady while doing these testings. It definitely isn't the end of it!
To be continued...