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NOODLE FORUM Slippery Business

Noodle-Forum

It’s been one year since Perth’s very own handmade noodle bar, Noodle Forum, opened its doors in the city – and judging by the endless line of noodle-eating lovers streaming out of the store, there’s no sign its doors will be closing any time soon. 

Two men, one bamboo stick, and a whole lotta jumping: welcome to Noodle Forum, your one-stop-shop for hand made, authentic Hong Kong noodles. The restaurant, located within the Equus Retail Arcade that runs between Murray and Hay Streets, boasts freshly made noodles that are bamboo-kneaded everyday by head chef Erich Wong and co-owner Ian Chin.

“We discovered that there are less than 10 people doing noodles this way in the world,” says Ian. “We’re the only one in Australia, and there’s only two noodle masters in Hong Kong left that are still doing it like this, which is where it originated from. The reason for it, sadly, is because it is physically demanding, and it takes a longer time to create noodles this way.”

The technique in question begins with Ian or Erich sitting on top of a large bamboo stick placed just above the noodle dough. They then jump up and down on the stick, from left to right and back again, several times until the dough changes consistency.

“I was told with the body weight and how we knead the noodles using the bamboo, every single motion is more than 250 kilos, so it’s like three or four times your body weight,” says Ian. “You can’t really do it by hand. We knead it and fold it repeatedly for about 10 or 12 times so it goes from a really soft, pliable pasta dough to becoming this almost eraser-like texture where it’s really, really tough. That high intensity powerful kneading somehow brings out the protein in the noodles, so it creates this strong elasticity, which is the signature bite of that noodle.”

The method sounds easier to perform than it is.

“Erich has been doing it for 40 years, so when you see him doing it it’s easy,” Ian says. “I really wanted to learn, and then I tried it. I tell you what, the first five minutes… I just thought that this is impossible. It’s very physically demanding and it hurts your butt, a lot, especially the next day. But I quickly realised after a couple of weeks that there’s a little bit of kung fu involved – you use how you control your body weight and the rhythm and the momentum to your advantage.”

Ian says Erich, who does the majority of the noodle making, can spend on average four to five hours a day bouncing on bamboo.

“He’s been doing this with his dad since he was 11 years old, so more than 40 years,” he says. “We got talking two years ago about combining the traditional way of making noodles –that’s more than centuries old – with a focus on local produce, and doing away with all the MSG, colouring, and things that are not so natural. For us, we really wanted to create something special, noodles made with passion, and it’s really, really rare.”

 

PENNY LANE