What Is Ngo Ngae Noodles?



Ngo Ngae noodles, often referred to as “Crybaby noodles” or “Phad Ngo-Ngae”, have carved a unique niche in the rich tapestry of Thai cuisine. This heartwarming dish, recently spotlighted in the Netflix movie “Hunger”, is more than just a culinary delight; it’s a reflection of Thai culture and familial bonds. The name itself, “Ngo-Ngae”, which translates to a crying or whining child, evokes a sense of nostalgia and memories of home-cooked comfort. In Thai households, food is not just sustenance but a medium of expression, love, and care. Ngo Ngae noodles, with their blend of sweet, savory, and umami flavors, encapsulate this sentiment, serving as a reminder of the warmth of home and the intricate flavors that Thai cuisine has to offer.

Origin and History

The origins of Ngo Ngae noodles, while deeply rooted in Thai culinary traditions, have recently been thrust into the global limelight, thanks to its feature in the Netflix movie “Hunger”. This film, Netflix’s premier Thai production of the year, delves into the intricate world of Thai cuisine, using Ngo Ngae noodles as a symbolic representation of comfort, home, and the complexities of human desires. The dish’s portrayal in the movie is not just a nod to its deliciousness but also an exploration of its cultural resonance within Thai society.


In Thailand, food is more than just a meal; it’s a narrative of history, geography, and identity. Ngo Ngae noodles, with their unique blend of ingredients and flavors, tell a story of regional influences, familial recipes passed down through generations, and the Thai penchant for balancing diverse flavors. The name “Ngo-Ngae”, referring to a crying child, further underscores the dish’s emotional significance. It’s a dish that mothers might prepare to comfort a distressed child, symbolizing warmth, care, and the soothing power of a well-cooked meal. The cultural significance of Ngo Ngae noodles, therefore, extends beyond the plate. It’s a testament to Thailand’s rich culinary heritage, the importance of family in Thai culture, and the deep emotional connections that food can foster.

Ingredients and Preparation

Ngo Ngae noodles, a dish that encapsulates the essence of Thai culinary artistry, is a delightful blend of textures and flavors. The beauty of this dish lies not just in its taste but also in the simplicity of its ingredients and the method of preparation. Here’s a detailed breakdown:


  1. Rice Noodles: The base of the dish, rice noodles are soft, chewy, and absorbent, making them perfect for soaking up the rich flavors of the stir-fry.
  2. Cooking Oil: Essential for stir-frying, it ensures the noodles are well-coated and flavorful.
  3. Fried Tofu: Adds a crispy texture and a subtle, earthy flavor to the dish.
  4. Chinese Sausage (Kun Chiang): A sweet and savory sausage that infuses the dish with a distinct aroma and taste.
  5. Dried Shrimp: These tiny shrimps pack a punch, adding a depth of umami flavor.
  6. Eggs: They add richness and a creamy texture, binding the ingredients together.
  7. Spring Onion: Brings a fresh, crisp contrast and a burst of color.
  8. Sauces: A combination of YEN TA PHO sauce, hoisin or oyster sauce, and soybean paste or light soy sauce. These sauces meld together to create a sweet, savory, and umami-rich flavor profile.

Preparation Method:

  1. Prep the Noodles: Soak the rice noodles in water for at least 30 minutes until they soften. Drain and set aside.
  2. Fry the Essentials: In a deep frying pan or wok, heat the cooking oil. Deep-fry the tofu, Chinese sausage, and dried shrimp until they turn crispy. Remove and set them aside.
  3. Stir-fry the Base: In the same pan, add a bit more oil if needed. Sauté the white part of the spring onions until fragrant. Crack in the eggs and scramble them lightly.
  4. Add the Noodles: Introduce the soaked rice noodles to the pan. Stir-fry them, ensuring they mix well with the eggs and onions.
  5. Sauce it Up: Pour in the YEN TA PHO sauce, hoisin or oyster sauce, and soybean paste or light soy sauce. Mix well, ensuring the noodles are evenly coated and absorb the flavors.
  6. Combine Everything: Add the previously fried tofu, Chinese sausage, and dried shrimp to the noodles. Continue stir-frying for 1-2 minutes, ensuring all ingredients meld together.
  7. Garnish and Serve: Transfer the noodles to a serving plate. Garnish with the green parts of the spring onion. For an added kick, sprinkle some white ground pepper on top. Serve hot and enjoy the comforting flavors of Ngo Ngae noodles!

The Story Behind the Name

The name “Phad Ngo-Ngae” is as evocative as the dish itself, carrying with it layers of cultural and emotional significance. The term “Phad” in Thai directly translates to “stir fry”, a cooking technique that involves quickly frying ingredients in a hot pan or wok, often used in various Asian cuisines. It’s a method that ensures ingredients retain their freshness while being imbued with the flavors of the sauces and seasonings.

The more intriguing part of the name is “Ngo-Ngae”, which refers to the sounds of a crying or whining child. This poignant reference, as depicted in the Netflix movie “Hunger”, resonates with the comforting nature of the dish. Just as a mother might console a distressed child with a lullaby or a warm embrace, this dish serves as a culinary solace, soothing the soul and evoking memories of home-cooked comfort. The name, thus, beautifully captures the essence of the dish: a comforting stir fry meant to alleviate one’s emotional hunger pangs.

The Movie “Hunger” and its Connection to Ngo Ngae Noodles

The Netflix movie “Hunger” serves as a captivating exploration of the world of Thai cuisine, with Ngo Ngae noodles playing a pivotal role in the narrative. Set against the backdrop of Thailand’s bustling culinary scene, the film delves deep into the juxtaposition of traditional home-cooked meals and the allure of high-end dining.

The plot follows the journey of Aoy, a young woman in her 20s, burdened with the responsibilities of her family’s local stir-fried noodles restaurant. Tired of the monotony and the weight of familial expectations, Aoy finds herself at a crossroads when she’s offered a job at “Hunger” – Thailand’s most prestigious chef’s table, led by the enigmatic and sought-after Chef Paul. As she steps into the world of fine dining, Aoy is introduced to a realm where culinary artistry meets ambition, and where every dish tells a story.

Ngo Ngae noodles become a symbol of Aoy’s past, representing the warmth of family, the comfort of familiar flavors, and the memories of her childhood. As she navigates the challenges of the high-end dining world, the dish serves as a constant reminder of her roots. The noodles, with their simple ingredients and heartwarming taste, contrast starkly with the elaborate and often pretentious dishes of the fine dining world. This dichotomy underscores the film’s central theme: the eternal conflict between tradition and modernity, between the comforts of home and the allure of the unknown.


Why is it called “Crybaby noodles”?

The term “Ngo-Ngae” in “Phad Ngo-Ngae” translates to the sounds of a crying or whining child. As depicted in the Netflix movie “Hunger”, this name is not just a whimsical label but carries emotional depth. The dish, with its comforting flavors and heartwarming preparation, is akin to the solace a mother might offer to a distressed child. Just as a lullaby or a gentle embrace can soothe a crying child, this dish serves as a culinary comfort, evoking feelings of home and warmth.

How is it different from other Thai noodle dishes?

While Thailand boasts a plethora of noodle dishes, each with its unique flavors and ingredients, Ngo Ngae noodles stand out due to their emotional and cultural significance. Beyond the ingredients, it’s the story behind the dish, especially its portrayal in popular culture like the movie “Hunger”, that sets it apart. The blend of sweet, savory, and umami flavors, combined with the dish’s rich symbolism, makes it distinct from other Thai noodle preparations.

Can the ingredients be substituted?

Yes, the beauty of Ngo Ngae noodles lies in its adaptability. While traditional ingredients offer authentic flavors, substitutions can be made based on availability and preference. For instance, the Chinese sausage can be replaced with any other sausage of choice, and the specific sauces can be swapped for similar alternatives to achieve the desired taste. However, to retain the essence of the dish, it’s recommended to stay close to the original recipe while making minor adjustments.

For a deeper dive into the world of Ngo Ngae noodles and related topics, consider exploring the following resources:

Detailed review and insights on the movie ‘Hunger’ – A comprehensive article from the Bangkok Post on the Netflix movie “Hunger”.

Visual guide on preparing Ngo Ngae noodles – A step-by-step TikTok video by wanna.naka showcasing the preparation of this comforting dish.

Another popular Thai noodle dish for reference – Dive into Marion’s Kitchen to explore Thai Pad See Ew Noodles, a beloved staple in Thai cuisine.


Ngo Ngae noodles, with their rich flavors and evocative name, stand as a testament to Thailand’s vibrant culinary heritage and the power of cinema in elevating a dish from the confines of the kitchen to global recognition. The Netflix movie “Hunger” not only showcased the dish but also highlighted its deep cultural and emotional significance. Beyond its cinematic portrayal, the true essence of Ngo Ngae noodles lies in the stories, memories, and traditions it embodies. For those yearning for a taste of Thai culture or a culinary adventure, there’s no better invitation than to prepare a bowl of Ngo Ngae noodles at home and savor its comforting embrace.


Leave a comment