Oh 7-Eleven. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
I love that you’re never more than 5 minutes away from any given location. I love that I can now buy crisps and ice-cream whenever the hell I want. I love your cute collectible promotional toys that I will never spend enough to obtain, although friends and colleagues will harass me for the tokens regardless.
I love that school kids frequent ‘Club 7’ to get their first illicit taste of alcohol, stand outside in the streets drinking it and that staff actually open their bottles for them. I love that we then do exactly the same thing in a loosely ironic fashion and it probably ends up being more fun than a night out in Dragon-I. I love that living it large outside Club 7 is practically a rites of passage in Hong Kong (see above photo for reference, taken in my second month in HK!).
But recently… I love your noodles. Not as much as my boyfriend does though.
Some of the larger 7-Elevens have a hot food counter (or even a stand-alone hot food shop), serving up re-heated street food without having to go to the trouble of wandering around the streets for it. We’re talking curry fish balls, char siu bao, shao mai and strangely-shaped things on cocktail sticks, all washed down with an artificial food-colouring abundant slushie drink. There are even microwaves in-store to heat up the ready meals that are available.
But it’s all about the lo mein. I first tried these when a group of my dancer friends came over to Hong Kong for work and quickly discovered the cheap and cheerful joys of 7-Eleven hot food on the go, especially the garlic noodles, which they chomped down regularly as they explored our fair city.
Fast forward a year later when I casually mentioned this to my boyfriend and he wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I think he’s averaged one a week ever since.
You’re basically paying $7 for someone else to make and season a pack of instant noodles for you. It’s quick, it’s cheap… and it’s bloody tasty.
Noodles in cha chaan tengs often come scattered with a plethora of distracting ingredients you didn’t even want in the first place – char siu, egg, onion, green pepper… and my mortal enemy, bean sprouts. Well there’s none of that nonsense here. 7-Eleven lo mein are salty, spicy (you can tell staff to what degree) and only given a light dusting with bits of yummy dried garlic/onion. Well, I think it’s dried garlic/onion. I hope so anyway.
The sauce is the kind that comes out of sachets and it’s left to the lap of the 7-Eleven gods what kind of 7-11er you get – someone who’s generous with the sauce, someone who knows how long to soak your noodles for, someone who isn’t going to do all this with a scowl on their face.
So yummy, so more-ish, so probably not very good for you at all. Prepared, eaten and thrown away in less than five minutes, no effort expended, no washing up afterwards. It’s the perfect meal, right?!
Cheers to that!