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Beyond Ramen: 8 Asian Noodle Soups You Need to Know in NYC

As temperatures dip, warm up with these delicious bowls
November 18, 2015
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by Sara Ventiera

You know all about ramen and pho, but there are multitude of other delicious Asian noodle soups to explore in NYC's vast food universe. As temperatures drop, warm up with these comforting bowls.

Khao Soi

Regional Thai food (particularly Northern Thai) has been on the rise for years now thanks to joints like Pok Pok and Kin Shop, so it was only a of time before the food-loving populace grabbed onto Northern Thailand’s signature noodle soup, khao soi. With roots in Burma, this curry/soup hybrid mixes the spice with silky coconut milk resulting in a vibrantly colored broth. Long, flat rice noodles float throughout along with chicken, peppery pickled mustard greens and diced onion. A crown of crunchy deep-fried noodles are the finishing touch; lime and roasted chiles are served alongside.

Where to Try:

Sripraphai 64-13 39th Ave., Woodside718-899-9599

Kao Soy283 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn; 718-875-1155

Pok Pok NY, 117 Columbia St., Brooklyn; 718-923-9322

Soba

The complete opposite of its salty, fatty cousin, ramen, this Japanese noodle is light and delicate. Made from buckwheat, soba has slightly nutty notes with a nice springy bite; its flavors are subdued compared to ramen and other in-your-face noodle dishes. It’s served cold with dipping sauce (great for summer) and hot in a variety of broths with toppings ranging from yuba (tofu skin), to broiled herring and fried sardines, to duck meat and negi. Go for the soup. It’s healthy and comforting; the antidote to holiday overindulgence.

Where to Try:

15 East, 15 E. 15th St.; 212-647-0015

Cocoron, 37 Kenmare St.; 212-966-0800

Lanzhou-Style Hand-Pulled Noodle

Appropriately titled, these noodles (also known as la mian) from the Chinese city Lanzhou are literally pulled by hand. A single piece of dough is yanked and slapped until it’s melded into a pile of perfectly identical threads. The result: a dense, chewy texture, ideal for soaking up meaty liquids. Traditionally, they’re served in light beef-bone stock with beef or mutton, but around the city you can find bowls with myriad proteins and veggies.

Where to Try:

Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles, 144 E. Broadway; 212-566-6933

Sheng Wang, 27 Eldridge St. Suite E; 212-925-0805

Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles1 Doyers St.; 212-791-1817 offers a similar style

Curry Laksa

Laksa is found all across Southeast Asia in a multitude of forms — the dish blends Chinese elements with native Malay flavors and ingredients. Curry laksa has become the most popular of all: coconut milk is blended with curry and other fiery spices, creating a rich, piquant broth. Bean sprouts, tofu puffs and thick rice noodles are paired with seafood (shrimp tends to be the most common in NYC), sambal chile paste and fresh cilantro. It’s so bold and restorative, it has now become a favorite hangover cure in Australia — it always helps to sweat it out.

Where to Try:

Pasar Malam, 208 Grand St., Brooklyn; 718-487-4576

Flinders Lane162 Avenue A; 212-228-6900

Chomp Chomp, 7 Cornelia St.; 212-929-2888

Asam Laksa

While the curry version of laksa mellows the spice out in creamy coconut, asam is like a sour punch in the taste buds. The broth is a combination of fish and tamarind, a far cry from its smoother counterpart. Inside, you’ll find thinly sliced vegetables like cucumber, onions, red chiles, pineapple and mint. Thick or thin rice noodles are piled in the middle, depending the purveyor. A spoonful of shrimp paste is dolloped on top for garnish.

Where to Try:  

Pasar Malam, 208 Grand St., Brooklyn; 718-487-4576

Laut, 15 E. 17th St.; 212-206-8989

Nyonya, 199 Grand St.; 212-334-3669

Bún Bò Huế

These days, pho is a household name, but there are other delicious Vietnamese soups to know. Enter bún bò Huế. Midsized rice noodles swim in a dark beef stock with strong aromas of lemongrass-fermented shrimp sauce and a tad of sugar to round it out. It’s not quite as complex as its more popular sister, but it certainly brings more heat. The liquid is enriched with chile oil, so there’s no need to kick up the spice at the table. As a fresh counterpoint to the meat and spice, it’s usually topped with a garden of basil, cilantro, mint, sawtooth herb, diced green onion, raw sliced onion, thinly sliced banana leaf and a wedge of lime.

Where to Try:

An Choi85 Orchard St.; 212-226-3700

Pho Bang157 Mott St.; 212-966-3797

Janchi Guksu

Many stocks tend to be heavy on the beef or pork. This Korean noodle dish doesn’t get its distinctive aroma from anything on land. Featuring a light broth of anchovy or kombu (seaweed), it tastes more like the sea than anything else. Thin wheat flour noodles soak up all the brininess. It’s accompanied by an umami-bomb of a sauce, made from sesame oil, ganjang (Korean fermented soy sauce), a hint of chile pepper powder and a bit of scallion. Zucchini, thinly sliced fried egg and seaweed garnish the top. In Korea, it’s a festive soup, consumed at weddings and birthdays, but you don't need a special occasion to enjoy this one.

Where to Try:

New Wonjo Restaurant, 23 W. 32nd St.; 212-695-5815  

Muk Eun Ji34 W. 32nd St., First Floor; 212-736-0099

Udon

Not as flavorful as ramen, nor as nutty as soba, for a long time udon has sat on the back burner behind its better-known cousins. That’s a shame, because few noodles are as comforting as these fat, chewy strands. In its purest form, these strips of white dough are served in a delicate broth called kakejiru, a blend of dashi, soy sauce and mirin, with a bit of chopped scallions sprinkled on top. Its great when it’s simple, yet there are tons of topping options to kick it up a notch including tempura fritter, wakame, egg and aburaage (sweetened deep-fried tofu).

Where to Try:

Samurai Mama205 Grand St., Brooklyn; 718-599-6161

Soba-ya229 E. Ninth St.; 212-533-6966

noodles
asian food
noodle soup