Ramen by the numbers: Edmonton accountant embarks on noodle audit

Slurping noodles and crunching numbers, Henry Choy is on a mission to find the perfect bowl of ramen.

The chartered accountant has been using his natural strengths to find the best bowl of traditional Japanese noodle soup the Edmonton area has to offer.

Choy, of Sherwood Park, is the founder of Edmonton’s only ramen noodle club.

Accountant Henry Choy is on a mission to sample every ramen dish Edmonton has to offer. (CBC)

He formed the Edmonton Ramen Club last fall on Reddit after stumbling across numerous posts from fellow ramen-lovers seeking out the best restaurant for the brothy wheat noodles.

‘A love of ramen’

Choy, 38, chronicles each excursion with the accuracy of an audit.

“When I was preparing ramen information for ramen posts on Reddit, I decided the best way to organize the information was in a spreadsheet,” Choy said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM. 

“I’m an accountant by profession so spreadsheets are fairly familiar to me.”

Since the fall, Choy’s club has been meeting regularly for lunch. Noodle fans have slurped nearly every ramen dish on offer in the Edmonton area. 

There’s a standing invitation to anyone hungry for a taste.

“Meeting these new people, they’ve all been pleasant, they’ve all been nice and we’ve all shared a love of ramen,” Choy said as he slurped a bowl at Nudoru ramen bar on Whyte Avenue. 

“There’s people that won’t eat a bowl of ramen if it’s not prepared in a traditional manner, but then there’s people like me that are just happy to have a bowl of ramen in front of them.”

Soup and spreadsheets

Choy creates a spreadsheet tracking each meeting, and carefully logs a balance sheet of flavours and ingredients.

“For my ramen rankings, I look at a few different aspects of ramen,” said Choy, who is the controller at Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Winspear Centre. 

“One of the most important things, and some may argue it’s the most important, is the broth,” he said.

“There are also the noodles, but for the noodles, I only say it’s really excellent, OK or bad. It’s hard to distinguish further than the three of those, at least for my tastes.

“I do have a column on here that has my ratings but I keep that hidden from public.” 

Choy also accounts for the preparation of the meat and the egg on top, which is usually soft-boiled or coddled, and the toppings, such as sweet bamboo, corn or different types of fungi.

He also logs the number of ramen-eaters in attendance at his meetings. He’s had a handful of people regularly show up, but he’s not opposed to eating alone.

If a throng of internet strangers fails to show, Chow still slurps his lunch, dutifully creates his spreadsheet and shares the data online for other ramen lovers to review.

It’s always good to enjoy company over a bowl of ramen. -Henry Choy

Choy will soon begin hosting his twice-monthly meetings in the evenings. He hopes it will boost attendance.

Almost anyone is welcome to join.

“You need to have a willingness to try different ramens and not be a ramen snob like exists in some circles of ramen lovers,” Choy said.

“There is a lot of promise for these evening meet-ups to increase and expand, and I’m hoping that’s the case because it’s always good to enjoy company over a bowl of ramen.”

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