How to make a healthier mixed cold noodles, with tips from a Hong Kong nutritionist

  • This fuss-free summer street snack involves a myriad of different ingredients and can contain a lot of sodium, sugar and fat, depending on what you choose
  • Every week, Talking Points gives you a worksheet to practise your reading comprehension with questions and exercises about the story we’ve written
Doris Wai |

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Mixed cold noodles can be a refreshing way to beat Hong Kong’s horrible summer heat. Photo: Captured from YouTube

Hongkongers are known for being practical and efficient, and this applies to some of their local street snacks. One such dish is mixed cold noodles, also known as 撈麵, where cold noodles are mixed with a myriad of ingredients, shaken in a bag, and eaten on the go.

This fuss-free summer takeaway dish can be found in many shopping districts where locals and tourists stop for a quick pick-me-up before resuming their activities for the day. For as little as HK$12, you can get a bag of DIY noodles with four ingredients of your choice from places such as 百味食品, a popular franchise with multiple outlets across the city.

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There are dozens of ingredients to choose from, ranging from gizzard and pig intestines and marinated octopus and fish balls and corn. Some go-to toppings include seaweed salad, conch with sauce, sesame octopus, and quail eggs, according to Kathy Ng Yiu-fan, a senior nutritionist at the Kat-Spirit Nutrition Centre in Hong Kong.

Kathy Ng Yiu-fan, senior nutritionist at the Kat-Spirit Nutrition Centre in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

This combination is popular for its delectable umami taste, and the conch and sesame octopus add an extra layer of meaty texture to the cold noodles. But Ng warned that the bag of deliciousness was loaded with sodium, sugar and fat.

“Some of these toppings are heavily seasoned with oil and sugar. In addition, garlic sauce – which usually comprises soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli sauce and minced garlic in oil – is a common condiment added for an extra punch. This further increases the total sodium and sugar count,” Ng said.

Seaweed salad may be tasty, but try not to choose it every time you get mixed cold noodles. Photo: Shutterstock

Ng also broke down the nutritional values of these three “terrible” ingredients: 100 grams of seaweed salad contains 76 calories, 5.2 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of sugar, 5.6 grams of carbohydrates, 1.8 grams of protein and 0.98 grams of sodium. The same amount of sesame octopus consists of 97 calories, 1.8 grams of fat, 8.1 grams of sugar, 9.2 grams of carbohydrates, 10.7 grams of protein and 1.34 grams of sodium. As for conch with sauce, 100 grams of this rubbery shellfish is packed with 46.7 calories, 30 grams of fat, 16 grams of sugar, 49.8 grams of carbohydrates, 37.2 grams of protein, and 0.3 grams of sodium.

“As you can see, combining all three toppings into your mixed cold noodles will easily rack up your overall sugar and fat intake,” Ng said. “Not to mention, a diet high in sodium can increase the risk of hypertension or even stomach cancer.”

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Ng added that although the type of noodle could affect the nutritional content of a dish, most vendors generally used rice and cold noodles - good sources of carbohydrates that provide our bodies with the necessary macronutrients for development and growth. Ng also recommended no more than two servings of mixed cold noodles per week and to opt for only one of the “terrible trio” each time to stay within the World Health Organization’s recommended sodium intake of fewer than 2,000 milligrams per day.

An even healthier idea would be to replace all three ingredients with corn, crab sticks, fish balls or even quail eggs, and to ask for less sauce. If you are feeling particularly health-conscious or inspired to make your own noodles, here’s a nutritionist-approved recipe your body will thank you for.

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Fresh DIY chilled noodles

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 300 grams rice noodles or fresh egg noodles

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil


  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce or abalone sauce

  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)


  • 2 crab sticks (kani), sliced or shredded

  • 100 grams unsalted dried seaweed

  • 100 grams blanched chicken, shredded

  • 100 grams canned corn, drained

  • a handful of cucumber slices

  • a handful of mung bean sprouts, blanched


  1. In a small skillet, heat the sesame oil until it begins to shimmer or ripple. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool.

  2. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and toss with the oil in a separate bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare all the ingredients and leave them to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

  4. Divide the noodles into two small containers. Add the toppings of your choice. Add the sauce and mix well. Enjoy your refreshing chilled noodles!

Click here to download a printable worksheet with questions and exercises about this story. Answers are on the second page of the document.

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