Cocoron's Soba—All of It
As we've said before, Cocoron's soba is probably the finest buckwheat noodle experience in New York. The menu offers the noodles in dozens of variations, chilled and in hot broth. We recommend them all. For something a little different, consider ordering the cold noodles served with hot broth on the side. You warm your noodles quickly with a brief dip in the pot, then slurp away. The best of cold and hot noodle worlds.
Legend's Dan Dan Noodles Cheng-Du Style
Savory minced pork studs the tender Dan Dan Noodles Cheng-Du Style ($5.50) in this small but satisfying dish at Legend. This bowl is particularly light on the chili oil, but they still keep the flavors balanced. One of the best dishes of dan dan noodles in the city.
Bun Cha Gio at Cong Ly
The Bun Cha Gio ($5) at Cong Ly is one of the best Vietnamese dishes you'll find in New York. Cong Ly uses angel hair noodles for their delicacy—much thinner than most—and the noodles are an excellent foil for the restaurant's intensely crisp, intensely juicy pork spring rolls. Considering it's a dish of rice starch jumbled with pork wrapped in fried pasta, it's surprisingly refreshing.
Cong Ly: 124 Hester Street, New York, NY 10002 (map); 212-343-1111
Tsuke Tororo Soba at SobaKoh
SobaKoh's delightfully chewy noodles are available with different sauces, one standout being the Tsuke Tororo Soba ($12.50), served with a sticky sauce of grated mountain yam. A rich quail egg mixed into the dish lends a creamy complexity.
Legend's Tears in Eyes
Legend's liang fen ($6.95) are poetically named and deceptively nuanced. On some days, their sauce of roasted chilies and fermented black beans is not hot at all; on other days it packs a wallop. We dig the noodles both ways, and make sure to order them every time we're at this Chelsea Sichuan gem.
Lao Cheng Du's Spicy Mung Bean Jello Salad
The liang fen (a more accurate but less fun name than "jello salad") at Lao Cheng Du is especially fresh and wobbly. The noodles come in a sauce of sweet black vinegar, chili, and cilantro. Sweet, sour, hot, and herbal flavors vie for your attention, but in a deliberate, orchestrated kind of way that's anything but noisy.
Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles from Xi'an Famous Foods
Liang Pi noodles are Xi'an Famous Foods' claim to fame: chewy, fresh handmade noodles slicked in an addictive sauce of chili oil, black vinegar, and sweet spices. Spongy gluten, crisp cucumber, and bright cilantro add texture and more freshness to the deceptively hot sauce. These noodles are basically a New York institution now, and we still love them.
Hanjoo's Naeng Myun
Korean naeng myun are chewy arrowroot noodles with more give than your typical starch. They're very well done at Hanjoo, where they're tender and flavorful. You'll find a few noodle options there; we're fans of the spicy sauces and chilled broth as the best complements for the noodles.
Also in Flushing: 41-06 149th Place, Flushing, NY 11355 (map); 718-359-6888
Lanzhou Liang Mian at Lanzhou Handmade Noodles
You get to watch these noodles made right in front of you at the Golden Shopping Mall, as they start from a block of dough and get slapped and spun into individual noodles. The dish is dressed with shredded cucumber, sesame paste, and chili oil, a simple but effective sauce for these bouncy noodles.
Lanzhou Handmade Noodles: Golden Shopping Mall, Basement Stall 27, 41-28 Main Street, Flushing, NY
Soba Nippon's Soba
You'll pay a hefty price for these noodles ($20), made from buckwheat grown on the restaurant's own farm in Canada. The soba is stellar, well cooked and full of nutty buckwheat flavor, but comes with pretty bare-bones accompaniments. Still, given its midtown location, the deal is worth it, and Soba Nippon is nice enough for a business lunch.
Cold Noodles Szechuan Style at Café China
Blending smooth and crunchy, cool and spicy, the Cold Noodles Szechuan Style ($6) is one satisfying small bite at Cafe China. The wheat noodles are springy but not tough, and the peanut-chili-scallion dressing is worlds better than 95% of its competition. Why can't all cold peanut noodles be this good?
Xian Ya Leng Mian from Han Song Ting
Naeng Myun at Geum Sung
Hand-Pulled Noodles in Sesame Oil at Sheng Wang
The hand-pulled noodles in sesame oil are really more a dish of cold sesame noodles, but nomenclature confusion aside, they're good stuff. Sheng Wang makes some of the bounciest, freshest hand pulled noodles in Chinatown, and the dish's simple sesame sauce and crisp vegetable topping makes for a refreshing but substantial meal, all for just a few bucks.
Sheng Wang: 27 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002 (map); 212-925-0805
Yun Nan Flavor Snack's Cold Rice Noodles
The sauce that comes with the standard order of dressed cold rice noodles ($4.75) at Yun Nan Flavor Snack is a complex mixture. Chili oil and vinegar play a large role, but they're balanced by soy sauce and sugar. Ground pork and roasted peanuts complete the dish, and unlike elsewhere, they cling to the chewy noodles instead of slumping to the bottom of the bowl.
Banh Mi Saigon's Shrimp Summer Rolls
The fresh, crisp gỏi cuốn, or shrimp summer rolls ($5), at Banh Mi Saigon make a great light lunch on a hot summer day. The rice paper rolls are stuffed with rice noodles, cool herbs, and tender shrimp, and come served with sweet and hot dipping sauces. They're also much larger than your average summer roll, so three of them fills you up faster than you'd think.
Daily Soba Lunch Special at Sakagura
Sakagura styles itself as an underground, unpretentious spot for Japanese, but they take their soba ($11.50) seriously. The elements of the lunch special change daily, but are built on foundations of well formed buckwheat noodles. The noodles are admittedly light on roasted buckwheat flavor, so make sure to let their accompanying sauce soak in before eating.