By Laura Shunk
By Hannah Palmer Egan
By Zachary Feldman
By Tara Mahadevan
By Fork in the Road
By Zachary Feldman
By Hannah Palmer Egan
By Laura Shunk
We've always depended on noodles for a cheap, fast meal, and with the economy on the skids, we've never needed them as much as we need them now.
Luckily, there are more types to choose from in New York than ever before. The recent flood of Chinese immigrants, popularization of regional Italian fare, glamorization of Japanese cuisine, and introduction of new noodles from Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Tibet, and Peru have enlivened our pasta-scape in profound ways. These days, you can find noodles made from wheat, whole wheat, buckwheat, chestnuts, corn, rice, mung beans, sweet potatoes, and even breadcrumbs.
128-12 Liberty Ave.
Jamaica, NY 11419
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Brooklyn, NY 11238
Region: Prospect Heights
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New York, NY 10001
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New York, NY 10003
Region: East Village
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New York, NY 10038
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New York, NY 10014
Region: West Village
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Brooklyn, NY 11222
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Flushing, NY 11372
Region: Jackson Heights
In fact, with their infinite variety and rib-sticking munificence, noodles are the new steak in an era of economic indigestion. Now that Dr. Atkins has been discredited by nutritionists, we realize that a pasta meal—whether a soup, stir-fry, or salad—can be every bit as nutritious (and delicious) as a grease-dripping hunk of meat. With spring in the offing, noodles mean lighter eating, too.
Here's a catalog of my favorite noodles, arranged alphabetically. It's not intended to be comprehensive, just tasty and entertaining. A single source is suggested for each type. For reasons of space, we haven't included dumplings, layered pastas, pastas rolled around fillings, or such hybrid curiosities as pasta pie or Rice-A-Roni. So get out your fork or chopsticks, and dig in!
The Surinamese take on Chinese lo mein came via Indonesia in the 19th century, carried by indentured field hands from Java to what was then Dutch Guiana. Salted palm syrup substitutes for soy sauce, and scallions provide verdant flavor, while boiled eggs and spicy sambal serve as garnish. Warung Kario, 128-12 Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill, Queens, 718-322-4774
While often served cold in southern Vietnam, this rice vermicelli is also featured with pork pâté and sliced beef in bun bo hue, a tart, fiery soup from the Central Vietnamese city of Hue. World of Taste, 2614 Jerome Avenue, Fordham, the Bronx, 718-584-5228
The word means "noodles," but, in practice, it refers to coiled angel-hair pasta tossed into soups. One of the most memorable local uses is in a mellow hen soup with lots of root veggies. Casa Adela, 66 Avenue C, East Village, 212-473-1882
These handmade wheat noodles formed into long tendrils may have been the pasta that Marco Polo tasted in Central Asia and took with him back to Italy. Central Asian restaurants drop them into hearty mutton soups. Café Arzu, 101-05 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, Queens, 718-830-3335
Lanzhou Hand-Pulled NoodlesChina
The skein of dough goes thwap, thwap, thwap in the hands of the noodle-master, who extrudes the wheat noodles thinner and longer by repeatedly doubling the dough. They're attributed to Lanzhou, a city in Gansu on the edge of Inner Mongolia, and served in a spicy beef soup. Super Taste, 26N Eldridge Street, Lower East Side, 212-625-1198
These near-translucent noodles are made from wheat starch without the gluten, rolled into big sheets, and cut irregularly with a knife, like freaked-out fettuccine. A version at Stall #36 ("Xi'an Famous Snacks") also adds spongy pads of wheat gluten to an oily Sichuan-peppercorn gravy. Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main Street, Flushing, Queens, no phone
Here are the wheat noodles that started it all: stir-fried with soy sauce and shot with vegetables in the Cantonese fashion, or served with a trickle of broth in the newer Hong Kong variety. Hong Wong Restaurant, 300 Grand Street, Lower East Side, 212-925-1662
Mac and CheeseUnited States
Known as "macaroni pie" throughout the Caribbean, mac and cheese is 19th-century fusion food par excellence, featuring English-style cheese and Italian elbow macaroni. The best evocations are often found at soul food spots. Mitchell's Soul Food, 617 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, 718-789-3212
It's no secret that southern Italians prefer dried pasta to fresh, and maccheroni is a catch-all term for dried pasta that may be tubular, like ziti, or elongated, like spaghetti. Baked ziti in the Sicilian style, with eggplant and cheese, is a favorite of mine. Frost Restaurant, 193 Frost Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-389-7190
Introduced into Southeast Asia by the Dutch, mie are ribbon-like egg noodles of the kind common throughout northern Europe. But how differently deployed! Indonesians feature them in a series of sweet and aromatic soups, with tidbits of chicken, wontons, fish balls, beef balls, and other formidable inclusions. Mie Jakarta, 86-20 Whitney Avenue, Elmhurst, Queens, 718-606-8025
These translucent vermicelli noodles are made from the strange combo of buckwheat and sweet-potato starch, and are incorporated into a cold noodle salad with chili paste and raw fish. NY Kom Tang Soot Bul Kal Bi, 32 West 32nd Street, Manhattan, 212-947-8482
Pad Woon SenThailand
The noodles—called "woon sen" in Thailand, "fen si" in China, "sotanghon" in the Philippines, and "su un" in Indonesia—are slender, transparent threads of mung bean starch deployed in stir-fries and soups. Thai Market, 960 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side, 212-280-4575
The name commonly means slender rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp or pork and flavored with fish sauce. Many other types of noodles are available in the Philippines, and "pancit" refers to any of them. Sandra's Kitchenette, 3910 Fourth Avenue, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 347-529-6683