Feb 2, 2022 - Food and Drink

Snail noodles take over Chicago

Photo of snail noodle packaging.

I finally found a big display of snail noodles at 88 Marketplace. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

👋 Hey, Monica here. After hearing about the snail noodle craze sweeping China, I became obsessed with finding the funky, slimy noodles in Chicago.

  • Big thanks to Axios reader Brian W. for directing me to a stash at Chinatown's huge 88 Marketplace.

The goods: I bought five brands (averaging $3.50), which come with dried rice noodles and multiple condiment packs.

The taste: The main flavor comes from the chili oil and the umami-rich "snail broth," supposedly derived from real river snails.

  • But the flavors and odors grow as you add the packets of vinegar, fermented bamboo shoots, preserved mustard greens, peanuts and tofu skin.

The famous funk: I hardly noticed these aromas while cooking, but when our teen came home, he shouted, "What stinks?"

  • Yes, the funk is real, but it only made me love these noodles more.
  • Or maybe I was just swayed by the writing on one of the snail packets.
Photo of a package of snail noodles.
A packet of concentrated snail broth. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Low carb confession: I get sleepy after a big bowl of real noodles, so I swapped in a bunch of daikon strips and they worked just fine.

Photo of noodles in a broth.
The slippery rice noodles that come in the packs are delicious, but so are homemade daikon noodles. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

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