Interview With Howsler Foods * Product Samples From Howsler Foods (1 of 2) * Product Samples From Howsler Foods (2 of 2) * Mom’s Dry Noodle Pepper & Sesame Sauce Flavor * Mom’s Dry Noodle Onion Oil & Shrimp Flavor * Xiao Ban Mian Sesame Sauce Matcha Noodle * Mom’s Dry Noodle Sichuan Spicy Flavor * Xiao Ban Mian Traditional Shallot & Onion Oil Noodle * Mom’s Dry Noodle Sour & Spicy Flavor * Xiao Ban Mian Sesame Oil With Garlic Flavor Thin Noodle * Mom’s Dry Noodle Vegan Chilli With Sesame Sauce
I had the opportunity last November to visit Taiwan and let me just say – Taiwan is an amazing and wonderful place. I was invited by Howsler Foods, makers of Mom’s Dry Noodle and the new Xiao Ban Mian, to visit their company in Taipei and noodle factories in Tainan and Taichung. All about the trip can be found here. I realized though that even though I’d reviewed their products many times in the past, I’d never done a Meet The Manufacturer. So here we go! Here’s the interview I conducted with Co-Founder Kyle Kao.
Interview With Howsler Foods – Taiwan
THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you for taking part in Meet The Manufacturer! To start the interview, can you tell me how Howsler Foods started and its history?
HOWSLER FOODS> The company was established in Sept 2013. PrioR to that, Perry and I spent about almost one year surveying the market and researching the perfect noodle to fit our flavor. Then we came out our first brand “Mom’s Dry Noodle” AKA “Lao Ma Noodle”. Mom’s Dry Noodle was first only distributed and sold through online orders and within just a year, over two million servings have been sold at the incredible rate of one serving every 8 seconds. In addition to Taiwan, our noodles are also being sold throughout China, Hong Kong, and the US. It is now is carried in a few supermarket chains locally as well.
TRR> What was the first product you made?
HOWSLER FOODS> Our first product was Sichuan Spicy Flavor and it got very successful.
TRR> You make special sauces to flavor the noodles. Can you walk us through how they are made?
HOWSLER FOODS> When we were developing our flavors, we would always have the same mindset that we are making a safe and healthy sauce to cater to people like how we do to our families. So most of our ingredients are from every household kitchen like soy sauce, sesame oil, cooking oil, broad bean paste, and even real foods like shallot.
TRR> Your headquarters are located in Taipei, Taiwan. What is life like there?
HOWSLER FOODS> Taiwan is a beautiful island. It was called “Formosa,” meaning “beautiful,” a name given by Portuguese explorers passing by on the way to Japan in the 16th century. It is its dramatic and fertile beauty that has made Taiwan attractive to foreign powers such as the Portuguese as well as the Spanish, Japanese, and Dutch – all of which tried their hand at colonial rule. Because of the different colonizations, you would see different style of historical sites like Chikan Tower in Tainan and Fort San Domingo in Taipei.
Taiwan is surrounded by the sea and there are beaches around the entire coast. Taiwan is famous for our food too. There is a saying that in Taiwan, there is a snack shop every three steps and a restaurant every five. The island has a great culinary culture and Taiwanese people love to cook and really love to eat. Our famous dishes are minced pork rice, beef noodle soup, Taiwan style pop corn chicken, oyster omelet and more.
TRR> Can you tell us about the varieties of noodles you make?
HOWSLER FOODS> With Mom’s Dry Noodle, we currently have five flavors, Sichuan Spicy, Green Onion & Shrimp, Vegan Chili with Sesame Sauce, Spicy & Sour, Pepper & Sesame.
TRR> How many noodle products do you produce every year?
HOWSLER FOODS> We average produce 1.7 – 2 million servings per year.
TRR> Do you make varieties suitable for Vegetarians? Vegans?
HOWSLER FOODS> Yes, most of our products are vegan friendly such as the Vegan Chili With Sesame, Sour and Spicy, Pepper and Sesame of Mom’s Dry Noodle, Matcha of Xiao ban mian.
TRR> Why the name Howsler Foods?
HOWSLER FOODS> Howsler is direct translated from the pronunciation in Mandarin. If you used pinyi, it would be Hao Shi le (好食樂). I made up the spelling as the English name.
TRR> Why the name Mom’s Dry Noodle?
HOWSLER FOODS> The main reason we used Mom’s is because the founder Perry used to own a hotpot restaurant called Lao Ma Spicy Hotpot. Lao ma means Mom or mother in English. The Sichuan spicy flavor came from his restaurant menu. Most of our product lines are dry noodle. That’s why.
TRR> Why the name Xiao Ban Mian?
HOWSLER FOODS> Xiao in Chinese mean small, youth, simple, the message we want to deliver to the consumer is that this noodle is simple and delicious. You can cook this at home anytime you like.
TRR> Your varieties don’t have broth. Have you thought of making a soup variety?
HOWSLER FOODS> Yes, we are currently developing a soup base variety. It should be out between Apr to Jun.
TRR> What kinds of noodles are used in your products? What are the differences between them?
HOWSLER FOODS> We strictly use sun-dried noodle because it’s made straight from dough and sun-dried to a certain level of water content so it can preserve in room temperature without using any preservation.
TRR> A lot of people are concerned with their sodium intake. How would you recommend people enjoy your product and do you take this into consideration during production/R&D?
HOWSLER FOODS> Most of our products are lower sodium content than the instant noodle. We will consider developing some low sodium flavor in the future.
TRR> Are you involved in in your local community or participate in charities?
HOWSLER FOODS> Yes, we involved with a lot of donations to the local shelters and orphanages.
TRR> Are there any new products coming soon?
HOWSLER FOODS> Both product lines will have new varieties coming out. It’s all in our pipeline!
TRR> In what countries are your products popular? Do people enjoy them differently in different places?
HOWSLER FOODS> We are currently selling in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Macau, North America, we’ve gave sample to Japan distributor. They are very interested in working with us. It should be in their market in 2017.
TRR> When you make noodles for yourself, what do you like to add to them to make them extra special (garnish, etc)?
HOWSLER FOODS> I usually add some vegetable and few slices of meat and some boiled egg. It would do the job!
THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn about Howsler Foods and your products!
Well, there you go! I’d like to thank Kyle Kao, Perry Chen, James Lee and everyone else for making me feel welcome in Taiwan and making this Meet The Manufacturer happen! Let’s begin!