Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Finding the ‘Magic’ in pulled noodles

Finding the ‘Magic’ in pulled noodles

A plate of fresh hand-pulled fried beef noodles (left) and a bowl of hand-pulled duck noodles (right).
A plate of fresh hand-pulled fried beef noodles (left) and a bowl of hand-pulled duck noodles (right). Sahiba Chawdhary

Finding the ‘Magic’ in pulled noodles

When she first saw Chinese handmade noodles being made, Phal Sophorn, 29, was struck with wonder.

It’s “like magic,” she said, using “flour and water, and pulling it together. When I [go to] Chinese restaurants, I always watch them [making noodles].”

This amazement is the inspiration behind the name of her new restaurant, De Magic Noodle, a Chinese handmade noodle joint located two streets down from Russian Market. It is owned by Phal Sophorn, and managed by her close friends – husband-and-wife duo, Tith Sreymom, 24, and Thoen Ranet, 23.

Also known as la mian in Mandarin, the origins of the handmade noodle date back to the Ming dynasty during the 16th century. Variants of it can be found all over East Asia and Southeast Asia, with the more famous Japanese version known as ramen.

“It’s the simplest of the noodles and dumplings,” Phal said, explaining why she decided to focus on handmade pulled noodles. “No one has done it yet [in Russian Market].”

Having worked in Chinese restaurants since he was 14, Ranet occupies the position of head chef, twisting and pulling with an expert hand, and drawing the dough out until it becomes long and thin. Then, with a flick of his wrist, he separates the strands of dough from the main bail and throws them into a pot.

Chef Thoen Ranet pulls dough in the kitchen.
Chef Thoen Ranet pulls dough in the kitchen. Sahiba Chawdhary

“[My previous restaurant] taught me how to make the noodles, as well as offered me the opportunity to explore the kitchen,” Ranet said. “They also show me and my wife how to run the restaurant and handle the ingredients.”

This experience has been invaluable in the running of De Magic Noodle, especially in crafting the menu, which is entirely Ranet’s work. When working at his previous restaurant, Ranet learned their recipes, and then brought them over to De Magic Noodle before tweaking them.

He recommends three dishes: the duck noodle soup ($2.50), and the fried beef ($3) or pork noodles ($3). A sampling reveals the broth to be flavourful, the meat to be tender and tasty, and the vegetables fresh.

While the menu is currently limited, with only noodle dishes and dumplings, Ranet has plans to update it soon, adding new dishes such as stir-fried vegetables with meat, fried rice and Tom Yum soup.

Most of their customers are locals, Tith said, although many Westerners do drop by for meals. Chinese customers, on the other hand, are few and far between, which Phal attributed to the location.

“Tuol Tompoung doesn’t have as many Chinese as compared to foreigners and locals. But I hope that when Chinese people become more aware of the restaurant, they will start to support [this restaurant].”

Even though the restaurant is still new, Phal is already considering expansion. “I have some friends who want to bring it to [destinations] such as Siem Reap,” he said. “If it suits their taste [in Siem Reap], then [my friends] will bring it over.”

While the chefs are working within a traditional, and tried-and-true, culinary milieu, Ranet said the willingness to experiment separates the restaurant from competitors.

“In our restaurant, we see cooking as an experiment. Sometimes we are successful and sometimes we fail, but it is very amazing when we are able to create something better and original,” he said.

De Magic Noodle is located at #29 on Street 456. It is open from 7:30am until 9pm on all days except Saturday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this