What Are Flying Noodles?

Order flying noodles, and you may wonder if a magician or chef prepared your food. Upon first glance, these cooked noodles seem to float mysteriously in the air, sometimes presented with chopsticks or a fork held by an invisible hand. The whimsical display has unsurprisingly made the rounds on social media, and chefs around the world have added unique touches and culinary flair to noodle recipes that include flavorful vegetables, fish, meat, and sauce.

If you're wondering whether something so kitschy could actually taste good, you're in for a surprise. Not only do these presentations of levitating noodles look exciting, but they are also delicious, too. The best part? Even if you're not a skilled chef or an aspiring magician, you can learn how to make your next batch of noodles appear to fly. Hang onto your chefs' hats and get ready to take a standard bowl of ramen to new heights.

The rise of flying noodles

From Singapore to California, the flying noodle dish can be ordered with the diner's choice of seafood, chicken, or vegetables. Restaurants have put their own twists on flying noodles by incorporating soba noodles, sauces, and garlic into recipes. Unfortunately, the viral noodles are not really floating, reveals Food & Wine, but are instead propped up by either chopsticks or a long stick. As several YouTube demonstrations show, potatoes are in fact used to hold chopsticks vertically, and both the secret prop and the hidden potato are covered with a mound of noodles, obscuring the "cheat" from view.

The noodle trick caught some serious air in 2016 and inspired one chef to take matters into his own hands. James Tan, the former head chef at Pioneer Seafood Restaurant, opened Flying Dragon Noodles determined to make orders of noodles actually fly — without a hidden prop or secret gimmick (per Seth Lui).

Making noodles really fly

Seth Lui set out to find and order real floating noodles in person, and Tan was happy to oblige. After propping up egg noodles on top of wooden chopsticks, Tan then poured steaming hot oil onto the noodles, effectively frying the suspended noodles in place. After a few minutes, the cooked and hardened noodles became crispy and solid, and chopsticks or hidden contraptions aren't required in order for the noodle to stand tall. To finish the dish, the noodle sculpture is added to a plate or bowl for finishing touches of sauce, meat, or vegetables.

Vincent Lim adopted a similar technique to cook batches of flying noodles, notes the Washington Post, pouring oil on top of noodles to cook them in a vertical position. His presentations have attracted serious attention on social media, and instructional videos encourage at-home cooks to try to make their own bowls of flying chowmein. Talk about elevating tonight's dinner.

Variations of flying noodles

As Lim and other social media creators have shown, making your own batch of floating noodles at home is a completely doable culinary endeavor. With only a few ingredients, Tasty Food Recipe shows it is possible to create a relatively simple dish that is not only fun to serve but delicious to enjoy. For vegans, Simply Food offers a friendly recipe that is suitable to serve diners adhering to specific dietary restrictions, and the recipe incorporates oyster and shiitake mushrooms into a comforting bowl of steaming, flavorful vegetable broth.  

Whether you choose to use instant ramen noodles to make your meal or want to try to add a flying element to tonight's taco salad or pasta bowl – or taco salad pasta bowl as Scrum Diddly Umptious demonstrates — cooking up plates of flying noodles to serve is a neat party hack that is guaranteed to impress guests and entertain family members alike.