New Austin company selling noodle cups for delivery and at local retail outlets
Instant noodles are almost instantly recognizable to Americans in part because of that iconic cup that holds them.
From 1996 to 2006, a 60-foot-tall replica of the classic Cup Noodles towered over Times Square in New York City, quietly steaming as a way to entice noodle lovers to pick up one of these inexpensive quick lunches.
Eugene Lin and Steve Har, founders of a new noodle cup company in Austin called Chop Chop, wanted to recreate some aspects of those instant noodles, but without the artificial ingredients. Both Lin and Har have spent time living, working and traveling through Asia, and they wanted to bring those street food flavors to America via that instantly recognizable cup.
They started developing the Chop Chop brand and testing out the concept through a pop-up last year, and within a few months, they were selling their upscale cups — made with homemade broth, vegetables, often a protein (either meat or vegan-friendly) and noodles, such as udon, soba and ramen — at local farmers markets and through delivery.
The brand officially launched at the Sustainable Food Center's Downtown Farmers Market, Lin says, and in recent weeks, they've landed on the shelves of retailers, including Asahi Imports, Dia’s Market, Fresh Plus, Mosaic Market, Native Grocery, Rabbit Food Grocery, Royal Blue and Thom’s Market in Austin. Retailers are currently selling three varieties: Thai chicken, kimchi ramen and Japan curry udon, which is vegan.
Customers also can sign up for Club Mian, Chop Chop’s monthly subscription service, where noodle lovers can sign up for three, six or 12 cups delivered each month. (Subscriptions start at $24. You can find out more at chopchop.cc.)
Subscribers can mix and match cups each month and get access to limited-edition noodle cups and collaborations with local farmers, breweries and restaurants. Last year, the company worked with La Barbecue and Johnson's Backyard Garden for limited-edition cups.
“With Club Mian, members will be seeing us work closely with local chefs, creators and brands that share our street-style ethos," Lin says. "When we show up in local, independent grocery stores, we’re bringing those collaborations with us to the shelves. When you see us at a farmers market, we’ll be collaborating directly with farmers in Texas."
With no additives, the noodle cups are delivered and sold frozen, and customers can prepare them directly from frozen, either in the microwave or on the stove.
To celebrate the Year of the Ox, which starts on Feb. 12, Chop Chop has teamed up with Korean restaurant Oseyo to make an ox bone broth noodle soup with Mandu-style dumplings filled with ox and shrimp. (The Lunar Firecracker collab costs $12.90 and is available for pickup at Oseyo on Feb. 12.)
Grab your White Claws: A hard seltzer festival is coming to Austin.