Tag Archives: tour

The Ramen Rater Visits Taiwan – Day 3: Taichung Noodle Factories & Taipei’s Huaxi Night Market

Day 1 * Day 2 * Day 3 * Day 4  * Day 5

Woke up at the Silks Place hotel and had some breakfast. Then we were off to the Tainan rail station. We said goodbye to Darren there and then goodbye to Perry who had to head back to Taipei as he was off to travel on business the next day. The rail stations were really fascinating; almost like a mall to themselves! Tons of people, but everything seems to work very logically. We took the train from Tainan to Taichung where three more noodle factories were to explore! Met Jason, Erickk and Paul and went out for lunch at a hot pot restaurant. Got to try plum drink – kind of tasted like American barbecue sauce to be honest, but went very well with the Taiwanese beef. Was an enjoyable meal for all and then we were off to visit three noodle factories. These factories are all part of a company called Hung Guang.

The first factory was interesting. First, we see the dough flattened thinner and thinner and then cut and deposited into grid-like trays. Workers make sure the noodles are in the correct places before the trays are sent off to the drying room, a very warm place indeed. Then the dried noodles come upstairs for packaging.

The second factory makes the straight noodles found in the new varieties by Mom’s Dry Noodle. The first machine we see takes the noodles and gets them bundled. In the next scene, we see the hanging noodles ready to go up to the drying room upstairs and a processing machine (it was late in the day so it wasn’t running). In the back, the dough is being made. Upon entry, we saw a big fish tank that we took a closer look at when we were leaving. The large fish has scaled that look kind of like coins arranged in a pattern and Kyle told me that these fish bring luck in the wealth department.

On the way to the third factory, we stopped for some bubble tea. Taichung is the birthplace of bubble tea and so having some from there was really great. I also got to try wheel cakes – they’re shaped like a wheel and kind of like a pancake outside with either a custard of red bean inside, and served hot. Perfect combo!

We visit the third factory late in the day. This factory uses fans to dry their noodles as well as heat. What you end up with is the ability to dry the noodles without the sun’s help, which is great for a colder day. After our tour, we had some oolong tea and talked about our trip thus far and how I was interested in eating snake and maybe even trying steamed spider. They liked that a lot and wanted to take us out on the town in Taichung, but unfortunately we had to catch the train back to Taipei. So, we bid them adieu and headed for the THSR station. Once back in Taipei, we check into our room, again at the United Hotel, and then headed to the Huaxi night market.

I’d never been to a night market before and if you haven’t, it’s an amazing, living, breathing thing. Lots and lots of food and product stalls everywhere and lots of people too. So many smells, sounds and sights that it almost becomes a bit of a blur. Huaxi (snake alley) night makret has a lot of the more interesting things like a couple places selling snake and turtle to eat. I saw a YouTube video about snake and really wanted to give it a try. I did in this video – and quite honestly, I liked it, albeit kind of hard to eat. I hope you enjoy the video! After this we went back to our hotel and passed out.

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Thailand: Day 3 – Seminar & Sightseeing

Day 1 * Day 2 * Day 3 * Day 4 * Day 5 * Day 6

Another breakfast at the Chatrium Hotel. Like I said in a previous post, I love two things about Asia – fish and fruit. Tiny bananas rock and so does watermelon. I really liked their pancakes – they make them with white cake batter – they go awesome with pineapple! Then there were these weird things that were hairy looking.

They’re called Rambutan.

I couldn’t remember it was called Rambutan in the video, but here’s how you eat it!

Then we all piled on these little boats and took a tour up the Chaophraya river and down some canals. Was great!

Here we go up one of the canals. Was really hot and humid but the breeze was nice.

We disembarked down the river and then got on a barge where we all got to sample a ton of different fruit!

I mean a ton! The variety was just amazing.

The light colored one with what looks like garlic cloves on the left is Mangosteen. Durian is considered the King of fruit – Mangosteen is considered the Queen. There’s also that leaf wrapped mango – it has sticky rice with it and is second to none. The large wedge on the right is pomelo. I also tried jackfruit, which I would liken to a distant ‘light’ cousin of durian.

We then had a nice lunch – a lot of differed foods featuring a new variety of noodle called Mendake. It’s a non-fried noodle that doesn’t come with seasoning but is for those who want to make their own dishes. They had a little ‘build your ramen bar’ thing where you’d get some noodles, some broth and some roast duck and then top it with all sorts of different thing – very nice! The picture here has some sushi and some river prawn that were wrapped in the Mendake noodles and deep fried – worked very nicely!

It was then time for the seminar! I was really excited to check this out. I find everything related to instant noodles fascinating – from the manufacturing to the development to the may they get from so far away to where they end up.

They had lots of display tables set up with all the lines by Thai Foods. This table fascinated me – they had varieties manufactured in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Hungary and Myanmar. I asked if there was any chance I could get some samples since each and every one you see here are varieties I’ve not reviewed. Sure enough, they were happy to oblige! I’ve been reviewing some of them as I’ve been doing this travelog!

We were shown to our seats to see this – such an honor! Wow!

Ms. Pojjanee is the Vice President at Thai President Foods. She sent me an email just after New Year’s asking if I’d like to come to Thailand and take part in this event. It was an honor to be mentioned like this – both myself and my sister are very grateful to have been invited here – we were honored to meet you and everyone else and will never forget this epic voyage!

Ms. Pojjana also played a big role in our attending the event. When we were making arrangements, I mentioned that my son’s birthday was in a week after I returned so was hoping to find him something Pokemon related in Thailand or on the way there. During the welcome dinner, she brought me a big stuffed Pikachu to give him! Thank you!

I think my favorite part of the seminar was the talk Mr. Songphop gave on food quality, food fraud and other compliance topics. I am very interested in these topics and his speech made me feel like I was in college again. Wish I could take a class from him on it. There are a lot of food standards that factories strive to get – ISO-9001 for example. Do you know what ISO-9001 is? Look it up. Don’t be surprised if you see instant noodle packaging with it prominently labeled on the back. Standards like this mean that the factory where the foods are manufactured have been rigorously checked for quality, cleanliness and more. I think a lot of the stigma of the instant noodle’s quality would be assuaged if consumers knew what these standards meant. Therefore, I plan on doing a special post about these standards in the near future to help educate folks on the requirements to attain them in hopes of educating people why they are so important. Thanks for the inspiration Mr. Songphop!

A group photo of everyone – I’m in the back!

After a bit of time to relax, we all met down by where the earlier boat tour started from and boarded a dinner cruise!

We got to check out a traditional dance and music!

The monkey.

…and the fish.

Here’s some video of the performance.

We ate wonderful corry, wrapped chicken in leaves and all things amazing. The views of Bangkok at night were amazing. Next stop was Asiatique.

It was explained to me that Asiatique is a night market made up of old East Asia Company warehouses. Lots of things to buy! I looked everywhere to find placemats and found this guy who had something that would work. Our friend Mr. Banks encouraged us to haggle. My sister got cornered by him – he was very interested in selling her a scarf after she bought a tapestry. I’ll never forget when he tried to sell her a scarf and exclaimed ‘it is the natural color of the goat ma’am. It is the highest quality.’ His t-shirt said ‘I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.’ Priceless. I found a few gifts to bring home and was quite happy with my haul.

We took tuk tuks to get back to the hotel. A tuk tuk has one wheel in the front and two in the back and disco lights and is a great experience – I had all I could do to keep myself whooping it up on the ride! That was really great!

Mr. Songphop and the guys from the Hungarian factory had to get back to work tomorrow, so we had to say goodbye even through my trip was only half over – great bunch of guys! My sister arrived in her tuk tuk a minute later and we headed up to get some shuteye. Another amazing day in Bangkok.

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Thailand: Day 2 – Factory Tour & More

Day 1 * Day 2 * Day 3 * Day 4 * Day 5 * Day 6

After some sleep, we headed down to breakfast. The Chatrium had a big breakfast buffet which was really nice – I would say my favorite part was all the fruit . One thing I’ve found is that when you’re in Asia, you’ve got to eat a lot of two things: seafood and fruit. Because it’s good there. Damn good. I ended up trying some dim sum and some other interesting things.

DSC00132

After breakfast, we met up with Mr. Banks. We headed off to the factory first thing. One thing we noticed around were lots of big purple billboards. As it turns out, April 2nd was the Princess’ birthday – click here to find out more.

On the way to the factory

So where is the noodle factory? Why Sriracha of course! What might surprise many is that the red rooster sauce everyone knows as Sriracha sauce isn’t super popular here.

The gate at Thai President Foods.

Entering the factory – everything smells like fried noodles! Was really nice.

Not sure but I’m guessing this is palm oil used to fry the noodles.

The first thing we did was watch a movie on this huge screen. It was all about Thai Foods and their products and company achievements.

Then we got to take a walk down the line and see the noodles being made! I can say first hand that this place was about as clean as it gets – standards are critically important in the noodles and food manufacturing business.

Walking down the line.

After the noodles come off the line, these two make sure they are in their little trays. If not, they tap them in.

Busy at the factory.

Packaging noodles.

Ms. Sumonrut, the RD & QA Manager and Mr. Songphop, the Regulatory Affairs Researcher took us around the R&D lab!

The R&D team!

They had homemade dishes and their instant version for me to try.

Talking food and trying it – really good stuff! It was an amazing tour I’ll never forget!

After the tour, we drove along the coast to Pattaya. This place was amazing; the smell of incense everywhere and this amazing temple by the sea.

We stopped at a seaside restaurant.

The food here was amazing – sea bass, morning glory in sauce, cashew chicken. We let Mr. Banks order figuring he’d know what was good – and he did!

Okay take a look at this. Take a long look. This sambal was like nothing I’ve tasted before – spicy from chillies, citrus hits from lemongrass, and a myriad of garlic and other herbs and spices. You grab some of the steamed sea bass and put a little of this on top. It was probably one of the best flavors I experienced in Thailand.

Some of the best squid I’ve ever had.

20150516_154722

Some neat street art.

On the way back to the hotel for a rest before the welcome dinner.

Amazing sunset out our hotel room’s window.

So Thai President Foods invites distributors every year for a special ‘agent’s meeting.’ It alternates by region every year and this year was the European Agents’ Meeting. People who distribute MAMA noodles all over Europe were there!

Everyone got to introduce themselves – here’s what I had to say (public speaking’s not my strong suit haha).

Got to meet some very nice people and have some tasty food! Jellyfish, crab, river prawn, prawn ball and my favorite…

This is duck – sliced very thin. You would take a pancake (the kind you would find with moo-shu pork) and put a slice of the duck on and one of these little bundles with spring onion and add some sauce, wrap it up and devour. Tasty fun stuff!

36th

The dinner was on the 36th floor of The Chatrium Hotel – and the view was spectacular. What a day!

The Ramen Rater: Nongshim America Visit

I’ve been waiting for everything to be all set up to post about this, but I have excellent news! Nong Shim America has invited my wife and I to come and tour their plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California! They’re going to fly us down for a weekend in late May where we will take a tour, sample their products and do an interview! This is about as cool as it gets! Want to say thanks to Nong Shim America for this wonderful opportunity for us to see a real instant noodle factory and to be able to bring it to everyone who enjoys the website! I’ll mention this again as time draws nearer. We’re very excited!