Noodles mean different things to different people. For some, a deep bowl of ramen topped with a hard-boiled egg and pork belly comes to mind. For others, it’s a bowl of homemade fettuccine in brown butter sauce. Whether you like your noodles hand-pulled or knife-cut, hot or cold, wheat, rice or buckwheat, there’s oodles of fantastic noodle dishes to discover this winter. (Though you want to stick with the warm versions until spring rolls back around.) From Zabb Elee’s Thai spicy and sour Thai noodle soup to Viennese spaetzle at Café Sabarsky, to soba done right at Cocoron, noodles are our latest wintertime delight.
Zabb Elee – Spicy-Sour Noodle Soup
Address: 75 2nd Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets
Phone: (212) 505-9533
“Authentic” pad thai? Yawn. Menus touting great pad thai seem to pile up like junk mail around our apartments, along with fusion joints with a cross selection of Thai and Chinese. So it was refreshing to stumble upon a Thai restaurant that doesn’t even have pad thai or curry in its line-up. Drawing heavily on influences of Northern Thailand, the menu at Zabb Elee features traditional Isaan cooking and fiery Laotian flavors. For noodles with a kick, try the Yen Ta Fo, a massive bowl of soup (easily enough for two or three to share), brimming with a spicy-sour broth, fried tofu, fish ball, squid, and noodles, of course.
Max Soha – Linguini Del Pescatore
Address: 1262 Amsterdam Ave. at 123rd Street
Phone: (212) 531-2221
Pasta comes in all shapes, sizes, and even colors. Bow tie, elbow, straight, twisted, white, red, black… we love them all. But what we really crave when winter strikes is a freshly kneaded noodles in tomato sauce. Which is why Max Soha, a cozy, family-owned Italian spot in Morningside Heights is making our noteworthy noodle line-up. Or more specifically, their linguini del pescatore. The black ink-stained noodles are made in-house, cooked to a perfect al dente, and tossed with shrimp, crab and a spicy tomato sauce. providing a chewy resistance that’s perfectly complemented by the kick of the spicy tomato sauce. If that’s not your style, they also serve homemade fettuccine in meat ragu and homemade lasagna.
Momofuku Noodle Bar – Ramen
Address: 171 1st Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets
Phone: (212) 500-0831
Sure we’ve heard rave upon rave about David Chang’s restaurants, and while we’re reluctant to jump on the bandwagon, we can’t help but jump on the bandwagon where late-night noodle are concerned. Next time, hunger strikes at one in the morning on Friday or Saturday night, skip the slice or street food and head to Momofuku Noodle Bar for their late-night menu, which includes a heaping bowl of ramen or ginger scallion noodles.
S’Mac – Macaroni & Cheese Sampler
Address: 345 E. 12th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues (multiple locations)
Phone: (212) 358-7912
Cheesy noodles are a guilty pleasure learned early on in childhood and one we rarely grow out of. Usually, you have to know where to find them or seek them out, that is, until S’Mac opened in the East Village. This place wheels and deals in piping-hot skillets piled with macaroni and cheese. It’s not quite as simple as that. The elbow macaroni noodles come in regular white, multi-grain, or even gluten free macaroni and come smothered all sorts of ways. Case in point: ‘The Parisienne’ with creamy Brie, roasted figs, roasted shitake, and fresh rosemary or the Alpine,’ mingled with Gruyere and bacon. Perhaps our favorite option is the S’Mac sampler, a taste of all the favorites including the parisienne, all-American, 4-cheese, cheeseburger, la mancha, Cajun, napoletena, and alpine.
Cocoron – Soba
Address: 61 Delancey Street between Allen and Eldridge Streets
Phone: (212) 925-5220
What about the oft-overlooked cousin to ramen, soba? We actually prefer the texture and flavor of these earthy buckwheat noodles over ramen and thanks to Cocoron there’s a lot more ways to get it. This teeny gem on the Lower East Side makes some of the best homemade tofu and soba in the city. In fact, there’s over twenty soba dishes on the menu, served hot or cold, with a delicious spectrum of proteins, sauces and seasonings. Though it’s technically winter, we still suggest cold soba to experience the rustic quality of the noodle. Besides, it comes with a hot bowl of healthful soba broth to slurp after you’re done.
Address: 39-07 Prince Street (Flushing)
Phone: (718) 886-6331
you’re in Flushing, stop at Sentosa, too, for a helping of Malaysian
noodle soup at this standout spot that’s been praised by New York
Magazine. There’s a few to sample on the menu, notably the fish head
rice noodle soup with salted cabbage, or the asam laksa, a spicy and
sour rice noodle soup with lemon grass broth. For fried noodles, order
the hokkien mee – thick, yellow noodles tossed with shrimp, pork,
chicken, squid, vegetables and a dark soy sauce.
Danji – Whelk Salad with Buckwheat Noodles
Address: 346 W. 52nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues
Phone: (212) 586-2880
If you haven’t been to Hell Kitchen’s best newcomer, you’d be wise to schedule a visit asap. It’s not often a restaurant like Danji comes along, managing modern Korean while still preserving the traditional Korean flavors it’s born from. The menu’s focus is Korean tapas, like a trio of kimchi, bulgogi sliders or steak tartare. But Danji also produces two noodle dishes that caught our attention. The first is a spicy whelk salad with buckwheat noodles. For those of you not familiar with whelk, it’s sea snail, and prepared correctly, it happens to be delicious. The earthiness of the cold, buckwheat noodles is a perfect match for the spiciness and chewy texture of the whelk. If you don’t mind double dipping in one sitting, try the stir-fried vermicelli with beef and wondrously crunchy vegetables.
SD26 – Chestnut Fettuccine With Wild Boar Salami
Address: 19 E. 27th Street between Madison and 5th Avenues
Phone: (212) 265-5959
They may have moved downtown, but they’re still just as good at turning out old world pasta that tastes like it was made by someone’s Italian grandma. Our favorite primi on SD26’s menu this winter is an appropriately seasonal chestnut fettuccini, mingled with wild boar salami and dried cranberries. If you prefer linguini, the kitchen also produces a terrific linguine di gragnano with clams, grape tomatoes, and smoked with applewood.
Lanzhou Handmade Noodle – Beef Noodle Soup
Address: 41-28 Main Street (Golden Mall Food Court – downtown Flushing)
We don’t give the ethnic food in Queens a shout-out often enough, and the noodles at Lanzhou are the perfect excuse. First, there’s the atmosphere. Though you’re essentially eating in a food court, the scene is reminiscent of a mom-and-pop food stall in China, and more importantly, the noodles are hand-made on the spot right in front of you. Order a bowl of the beef noodle soup with a deeply flavorful broth along with tender slices of beef. Add in a little chili sauce and pickled veggies and you’re good to go.
RG Writer: Ali Baker