Spring Guide: Slurp Through the Recession

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.

Calvin Godfrey

Location Info

Map

Warung Kario

128-12 Liberty Ave.
Jamaica, NY 11419

Category: Restaurant > Indonesian

Region: Jamaica

World of Taste

2614 Jerome Ave.
Bronx, NY 10468

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Bronx

Casa Adela

66 Ave. C
New York, NY 10009

Category: Restaurant > Puerto Rican

Region: East Village

Arzu

101-05 67th Road
Flushing, NY 11375

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Flushing

Super Taste

26 Eldridge St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Chinatown

Golden Shopping Mall

41-28 Main St.
Flushing, NY 11355

Category: Community Venues

Region: Flushing

Hong Wong

300 Grand St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Chinatown

Mitchell Soul Food

617A Vanderbilt Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Category: Restaurant > Soul Food

Region: Prospect Heights

Frost

193 Frost St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Brooklyn

Kom Tang Soot Bul House

32 W. 32nd St.
New York, NY 10001

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Chelsea

Sheng Wang

27 Eldridge St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Chinatown

Pho Grand

277C Grand St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Chinatown

Momofuku Noodle Bar

171 First Ave.
New York, NY 10003

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: East Village

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

64 Fulton St.
New York, NY 10038

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Financial District

Zum Schneider

107 Ave. C
New York, NY 10009

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East Village

Malatesta Trattoria

649 Washington St.
New York, NY 10014

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: West Village

Pio Pio Riko

996 Manhattan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Greenpoint

Mustang Thakali Kitchen

74-14 37th Ave.
Flushing, NY 11372

Category: Restaurant > Nepalese

Region: Jackson Heights

Udon West

150 E. 46th St.
New York, NY 10017

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: East 40s

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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!

BamieSuriname

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

BunVietnam

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

Fideos—Cuban

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

Lagman—Uzbekistan

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 Noodles—China

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

Liang Pi—China

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

Lo Mein—China

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 Cheese—United 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

Maccheroni—Italy

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

Mie—Indonesia

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

Naeng Myun—Korea

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

Pancit BihonPhilippines

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

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