It may sound crazy to open a 6th Guilin Rice Noodle Shop in the neighborhood of 5 others within a 100 meter stretch of side road. Considering the low profit (some US 20 cents a bowl of noodles), less (than the main road) flow of people passing by each day, one would think this is suicidal.
But 40 days after the opening, the shop is breaking even now! With some 300+ bowls of rice noodle each day, the shop is taking the clients from the other shops.
My curiosity urged me to put forward the questions to the owner this morning. With a smile on his face, he said, “I was told that the noodles here are not great, people want something good, so here I am”.
Such confidence certainly comes from his special recipe of the noodle sauce and the meat going with the noodles.
Rice noodle sauce, consisting of a few dozen Chinese herbs and spices, takes up to 8 hours sitting on the fire.Fire needs to be controlled carefully and constant stirring the sauce is necessary, the shop owner added, “It is like making a good soup in Cantonese cuisine, though a bit longer”. Each noodle shop has its own recipe of the sauce, a top secret of the business.
The meat, especially the deep fried pork slices (Guoshao in Chinese), is another secret mastered by only a few in the city of Guilin. It is a time consuming work with tricks. Chunks of pork meat, together with the skin, is boiled first, and then put to a wok full of boiling vegetable oil for deep frying. The frying process is repeated a few times until the skin produces a golden color. It is then put aside for the day’s selling. A good Guoshao has both lean meat and fat, around 30% lean meat and 70% fat. Good Guoshao’s fat melts the moment it is placed in the mouth and the lean meat is tender and tasty.
Another meaning of Kungfu refers to the efforts put into a certain project. Certainly there is quite a bit of Kungfu in a bowl of good rice noodle making in this shop. Picky eaters in Guilin go searching for their best rice noodle shop in town for breakfasts. And I am one of them. I feel sorry for the other shops that I used to go to, but such is life and business.
Finally, I congratulated the owner of the shop and wished him well. I told him that some of our clients would certainly come and enjoy his noodles. And guess what he said? “If you come after 2-3pm (the daily closing time), please remind me in the morning, so I will get things ready for your clients”. Though we would not trouble him for one or two bowls of noodles, the hardworking in him certainly is another reason why he could succeed!
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