Meet Chico (“Boy”) Ngou from Hong Kong. At one point in his life, he ate instant noodles for 526 days in a row. Before quitting his job in media and advertising, he tried more than 300 types of instant noodles, eating upwards of 2,000 packs. Now he has an instant noodle shop in Shanghai.
Chico is nice, a little bit shy, probably very salty on the inside and young-looking. He credits instant noodles with getting him through a tough period of study in the UK. Now he's giving back by becoming an expert and advocate for the packaged snack. He compiles annual rankings for the best dry noodle, soup noodle, and spicy noodle. He knows the right brand for low-calorie eaters and those looking for professional quality. And what he knows, he has compiled into a bilingual, magazine-sized "instant noodle bible" which doubles as the menu of his eponymous shop.
The Ramen Boy stocks over 100 varieties of imported instant noodles, often hard to find at local markets, as well as Hong Kong and Southeast Asian soft drinks. He's sharing the space with his Taiwanese partner Cai, which means he’s only open from 11am-6pm. After 6pm, it turns into Bon Bon, a homey restaurant for Taiwanese eats. They don’t have any instant noodles on the menu.
Chico's passion for instant noodle is infectious. He offers his bowls with toppings, from gourmet Japanese eggs to black truffle paste. The noodles are tasty as instant noodles get, if pricey (28-78rmb including a Vitasoy). Much like almost everything else at Julu 758, Ramen Boy needs a bit of work. Novelty seekers and aficionados of Southeast Asian noodles will like it best. Will that be enough to draw a nation of eaters raised on five-kuai bowls? For now, it’s too soon to tell.