A staple in many cuisines around the world, the satisfying slurp of warm noodles in a rich broth or stir-fry is undeniable. Here's a quick primer on noodle varieties around the city ranging from Northern China to Southeast Asia, some of which are cold and perfect for summer, plus where to try each.
Dan dan noodles: Try at Hao Noodle and Tea
This Chinese Sichuan noodle dish has a spicy kick made with chile oil, Sichuan peppercorns, preserved vegetables, minced pork and scallions, with sesame paste and peanut butter as optional additions. The type of noodle used varies depending on the recipe, ranging from egg noodles to udon. Hao Noodle and Tea serves an exceptional version as well as other regional Chinese noodle dishes.
401 6th Ave.; 212-633-8900
Mixian: Try Little Pot Mixian at Little Tong Noodle Shop
From Yunnan, China, mixian is a non-glutinous, spaghetti-shaped rice noodle that is cooked in traditional hammered copper pots and served with condiments like chile pepper, mint and sesame oil. From chef Simone Tong (previously of Wylie Dufresne's WD~50 and Alder), newly opened Little Tong Noodle Shop in the East Village offers a variety of mixian bowls, including Little Pot Mixian, which features a rich pork broth, minced pork belly, shiitakes, garlic chives, pickled mustard stems, pea shoots and chile vinaigrette.
177 First Ave.; 929-367-8664
Pho: Try at Pho Bang
This straightforward Vietnamese noodle soup is made with a few simple ingredients: broth, bánh phở (rice noodles), some herbs like mint and cilantro, and protein (think beef or chicken). Don’t be fooled by its simplicity — this comforting dish is full of flavor and you can add Sriracha or a squeeze of lime for an extra kick. Try a bowl at pho specialist, Pho Bang, where toppings include eye of round, brisket and tendon.
157 Mott St.; 212-966-3797
Pancit bihon: Try at Maharlika
Pancit, the general word for noodles and noodle dishes in Filipino cuisine, has a number of varieties but is most associated with the dish, pancit bihon. This variation is made by frying thin rice noodles, meat and vegetables in soy sauce and citrus. Maharlika’s version features chicken, carrots, celery, water chestnuts, poached egg and an optional prawn head.
111 1st Ave.; 646-392-7880
Ramen: Try Akamaru Modern at Ippudo
This well-known Japanese dish made with Chinese wheat noodles is offered in many varieties including tonkotsu (cloudy white pork bone broth) and shoyu, characterized by a clear brown broth with a vegetable or chicken stock base and soy sauce. Ippudo, which specializes in traditional Hakata tonkotsu, tops its Akamaru Modern with a housemade “umami dama” miso paste, adding an addictive layer of flavor that keeps you coming back for more. Just say “Kae-dama, please” for an extra serving of noodles to savor every last bit of that broth.
65 4th Ave.; 212-388-0088
Asam laksa/curry laksa: Try at Laut
This Peranakan dish is a spicy soup made with rice noodles (or rice vermicelli) and chicken, fish or prawn. The basic varieties are curry laksa (rich, savory, coconut-based broth), asam laksa (fresh, sour, fish and tamarind-based broth), and a combination of the two. Curry and asam laksa are both on the menu at Laut, which specializes in authentic Southeast Asian cuisine.
15 E. 17th St.; 212-206-8989
Udon: Try TsuruTonTan deluxe at TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie
A longtime staple in Japanese cuisine, these thick noodles are made by mixing flour and lightly salted water. The dough is then kneaded, stretched and cut into thin strips before being served in a bowl, hot pot or dish with a range of toppings. The TsuruTonTan deluxe at this Japanese chain’s NYC location — its first international outpost — features handmade noodles, shrimp and vegetable tempura, beef short plate, chicken and egg in a traditional Dashi broth.
21 East 16th St.; 212-989-1000
Japchae: Try at Danji
To make this Korean dish, sweet potato noodles, vegetables and beef (optional) are stir-fried in sesame oil, finished with soy sauce and sugar, then topped with sesame seeds. Served hot or cold, as a side dish or main, this versatile dish is offered at Danji, a modern Korean tapas restaurant in Hell's Kitchen.
346 W. 52nd St.; 212-586-2880
Kal-guksu: Try at Her Name is Han
The name itself meaning “knife noodles,” this seasonal Korean dish most often eaten in the summer is characterized by knife-cut wheat flour noodles served in a large bowl and finished with broth and other ingredients. Her Name is Han serves a seafood (assorted seafood and spinach) and ground beef option (ground beef, sautéed zucchini and poached bok choy).
17 E. 31st St.; 212-779-9990
Cold sesame noodles: Try at Shorty Tang Noodles
A Sichuanese dish with many variations as recipes have been altered over time, many regard Shorty Tang’s iconic cold sesame noodles as the standard — soft, mouthwatering Chinese noodles tossed in a sesame paste and peanut butter mixture with chile oil, sugar and vinegar. A cold, spicy dish perfect for eating in the heat of summer. The classic spot just reopened in Chelsea last week.
98 8th Ave.; 646-896-1883