The Best Spots for Noodles in New York City
Sometimes you don’t have to go very far to experience the wide world: in this case, the wide world of Asian noodles. Perhaps you live in New York, and want a taste of Xi’an or Tokyo. Or perhaps New York is on your fall travel list. Either way, slurp it up.
328 East 78th Street
My vote for the best bowl of Asian noodles in New York City goes to Xi’an Famous Foods, which also won over Anthony Bourdain, food critics, and countless locals. The family-run business celebrates signature spicy dishes from its hometown in western China. Most of the locations are small—you will likely wait—however, once you dig in to your bowl of spicy broth, stewed pork (or lamb, or oxtail) that falls apart on your fork because it’s so tender and hand-ripped noodles, you will understand. Do yourself a favor, skip the available cans of soda and instead opt for their homemade cold jasmine tea (sweetened or unsweetened). It perfectly cuts the heat. There are more than 10 locations, including the original in Queens. They do a brisk business at lunchtime; visit for a late lunch or early dinner to improve your chances of getting a seat.
65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003, USA
The melodious invitations of “irasshaimase” (“welcome”) from all the staff at Ippudo NY as I walked into the restaurant quickly transported me back to Japan although I must admit it seemed to me slightly dissonant, almost like a dubbed movie, when I heard the phrase perfectly uttered from some of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed waiters. But the welcome was a nice touch, an additional layer of the place’s verisimilitude. We waited for our table in the busy bar area where ramen bowls lined its red walls like trophies in a hunting lodge. The glowing reviews and reasonable prices make Ippudo NY a very popular choice even at six in the evening - presumably just a late lunch for New Yorkers. The restaurant does not take reservations so expect a little wait. We sat in a narrow wing filled with a concentrate of small tables: You are close enough to your neighbors to smell what they ordered and be influenced by their decisions. We started with the pork bun, a popular choice: It was smooth and creamy but not as sweet as the ones I had in Japan. My wife and I both ordered ramen, she the miso tonkotsu and I the traditional tonkotsu, and we delighted in its milky oil-dappled broth, the telltale soft boiled egg, and the freshly pulled ramen. We finished with the matcha (green tea) ice cream and soft tofu, a distinctively Japanese combination, and it completed our reintroduction to the dining experiences we so loved in Japan and we were left to reflexively whisper to ourselves “oishi.”
218 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003, USA
Every Ramen shop in NYC has something different to offer. If they all offered the same Ramen it wouldn’t be interesting at all. Rai Rai Ken excels in the broth department. They have a particular seafood based broth that is very flavorful, and not too salty. There’s also some minor sentimental attachment, as this was the first Ramen shop I ever went to.