A few years ago, a cooking challenge swept across the internet, and people raced to replicate the dish. Flying noodles feature a visually impressive display and a shockingly simple formula: Stick chopsticks in a potato and drape fried noodles on the sticks to complete the illusion that the noodles are levitating. Many chefs attempted it. Few continued selling it. But as with most viral hacks, the flying noodles never progressed beyond imitations of the original.
Vincent Lim, a chef and the self-proclaimed “Wok of Wall Street,” saw flying noodles as a respectable challenge rather than an exhausted gimmick. So while experimenting with his wok, Lim realized that he could pour hot oil on top of the noodles to solidify their structure without using chopsticks as a stand to prop them up. He promoted this wok wizardry on his TikTok account (@dimsimlim) with 1.3 million followers and continued posting a handful of variations — Cardi B Noodles, wonton flying noodles and lobster chow mein, touting two floating utensils. Since then, it’s become his signature dish and one he has served to more than 300 guests at his pop-up restaurants.
Lim’s journey to TikTok began in late 2019 after his brother encouraged him to promote his restaurant, Lawson Chinese in New South Wales, Australia. When the pandemic forced restaurants to temporarily close, Lim worried that business would slow, so he jumped on TikTok as a side hobby. In his first video, he threw KFC chicken and other ingredients into a rice cooker — a simple yet resourceful hack that Lim made himself. Nothing could have prepared him for the next morning when he logged on and saw his video had racked up millions of views and many supportive comments.
“It was the perfect piece of content, because during the lockdown in Australia, the only restaurants that were open completely were fast food places,” he says.
Chinese cooking has always been in Lim’s blood. He was born in Temple, Tex., where his parents owned and operated a Chinese American restaurant that served familiar dishes, such as fried rice and General Tso’s chicken. Later, his family relocated to Malaysia and then Perth, Australia, working in restaurants wherever they settled. Together with his father, Danny Lim, Vincent started work in 2012 as a chef at the Emirates first class lounge, where he cooked Western food and prepared dishes such as tabbouleh. But all along, Lim knew that this was only a pit stop to a final destination.
“I just wanted to do something that I’m really passionate about,” Lim says. “I can make a really mean tabbouleh, but I don’t have the nostalgia of what it’s supposed to taste like or my grandma making tabbouleh on a Saturday afternoon. But for Chinese food, Asian food? I have that memory.”
Lim credits his father for teaching him all about Chinese food. When Lim was 8, his father placed a wok in his hands and helped him cook fried rice with leftover Spam, peas and seafood. Fried rice is still Lim’s favorite dish: The “easiest dish to cook but also the hardest dish to get right,” he says.
Danny Lim died five years ago, and his passing sparked a flame in Lim, who decided to drop out of university in his last semester and open Lawson Chinese to pursue his own kitchen dreams.
At his restaurant, Lim serves dishes that reflect his family’s culinary traditions and the places he’s been, such as Singapore fried noodles and sizzling Mongolian beef. By firing up his wok, he takes diners on a sweeping tour of Malaysia, China and Singapore — with a few Australian specialties sprinkled in.
And Lim is no stranger to Australian Chinese cuisine’s storied history. He eagerly talks about the ever-popular honey chicken, a sweet fried cousin to America’s sweet and sour chicken. Dim sim, a long meat and vegetable dumpling popular in Australia, has roots as a blue-collar treat for plumbers and electricians.
“American Chinese food and Australian Chinese food is authentic Chinese food. People think because it’s not from China, it’s not authentic,” he says. “But the thing is that it’s been around for so long. And a lot of American Chinese and Australian Chinese kids grew up eating this.”
As Lim continues to spread the gospel of the wok, he wants to make sure his social media followers can enjoy his recipes from the comforts of their homes.
“Using a wok and fire is already complicated enough. When you make it too difficult, the audience is just gonna be like, ‘I’m gonna stick to a pan, my microwave or air fryer,’” he says. “I’m just trying to make cooking simple and accessible to every single person on this planet.”
Flying noodles and wok cooking tips have TikTok's Vincent Lim … – The Washington Post