Folks in China eat a lot of noodle soup. Making noodles for the soup requires a set of skills that is becoming more rare as time goes by. One Chinese chef decided to to something about it, and invented Noodlebot. The machine is relatively expensive, but it’s cheaper than hiring a noodle chef for one year.
I have a Mexican friend here in Shanghai who made a resolution for 2012. He loves the fried dumplings you get on the streets here for only a few Chinese yuan, so he vowed to eat 2012 dumplings before the year was up. Many times on our way home while he’d stop and get dumplings, I would watch the man in the small shop make noodles.
If you’ve never seen it before, it’s amazing. The cook takes a single piece of dough, stretches it out hundreds of times and twists until it becomes a bunch of smaller noodles that we eat in our soup. Besides noodle-pulling, another version called “dao xiao mian” (???), he’d slice a few into the pot from a block of dough next to him.
It seems that my evening pastime might start to look a little different in the future thanks to Cui Runquan and his “Noodlebot” invention more commonly known as the “Chef Cui.” In 2007 Cui decided he wanted to “free all sliced-noodle chefs from hard labor”. In Cui’s opinion, the labor is hard and believes there is a shortage of up-and-coming noodle chefs in China. He designed his robots to fill the void as China’s youth seek more advanced employment.
Most Noodlebots appear unnecessarily bulky given the small space most shops have to work with. However, a visible Noodlebot seems to be a good novelty item for drawing customers in. In fact, most Noodlebots are made to look like popular Japanese action hero Ultraman, but can also be manufactured to resemble popular Chinese cartoon characters.
Noodlebot’s specialty dish is the latter kind of noodle mentioned earlier, “dao xiao mian”. The robot holds a block of dough on its left arm and the right arm has an arm that lops strings off the dough at a frightening pace. (CNET/Asia)