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Shanghai noodle machines wait for licensing to resume service

By Cao Chen in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-31 07:45

Three vending machines in Shanghai that make bowls of hot noodles in less than a minute will be taking a break until the operator gets all the necessary licenses.

City supervisors said the company has a valid food business license, but the equipment was deemed to be providing services "beyond the scope" of the license.

The machines use half-cooked noodles that remain frozen until a customer orders. Then the machines quickly defrost the noodles and add boiling water through the lid.

Because of the process, the vending machines technically produce "freshly made food", for which the company is not licensed.

The company, Ludou Food and Beverage Management Co in Shanghai, suspended trial operations of the machines on Friday. It is currently awaiting official approval from the Shanghai market management department and hopes to put the "self-cooking" machines back into action.

Other vending machines in Shanghai that dispense fresh orange juice, coconut juice and hairy crabs are popular. Following the trend, the noodle soup vending machines have attracted many customers, especially white-collar workers.

In just 45 seconds, the equipment can make a bowl of hot noodle soup of the customer's choice for about 10 yuan ($1.50).

The handmade noodles in mellow soup are blended with beef, pickled cabbage, needle mushrooms, lettuce and peppers, or with barbecued meat, vegetarian meat, mushrooms and bamboo.

Most customers who left online reviews praised the flavor.

"The noodles are much more delicious than instant noodles," Lydia Zheng, a white-collar worker, was quoted as saying in Shanghai Daily. "It's also really convenient."

Customers can pay through their phones after scanning a QR code on the screen. The machines also provide chopsticks and plastic carry bags.

According to the person in charge of the machines, 120 bowls of noodle soup were sold every day during the trial period.

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