I still remember my first plate of kua gai: enormous flat rice noodles, wrapped gently around stir-fried chicken and egg, dribbled in a light sweet sauce, and nestled in a bed of green leaf lettuce. Those Thai noodles were a phenomenon to me, with their balanced spice and chewy bite, and thus our love affair began. Fortunately for me and noodle-obsessives everywhere, October 6 is National Noodle Day. We’ve been plotting where to celebrate, though this list isn’t comprehensive. Slippery udon, translucent rice noodles, wavy ramen, delicate soba, hand-crafted gnocchi—no matter your noodle persuasion, we have a recommendation.
The ramen spot that was once Tanoshii serves ramen in its purest, most classical form. Whether you need a balm for a cold day or broken heart, Ichigo is at your service with bowls of brothy goodness. The menu features six ramen options and airs on the side of assari, a lighter style than the richer kotteri. All the flavoring oils are made in house to compliment the broth and hand-selected-in-Japan noodles. Toppings are spare—menma, seasoned egg, or maybe the scallop-edge slice of naruto fish cake—to let the flavors take center stage. A vegetable broth gets Fuji apples and burdock root; the chicken paitan ramen is lip-smacking.
Slip off your shoes, sit cross-legged at a low table, and choose your sake cup from the basket proffered. Peruse the izakaya options, like platters of crunchy pickles and golden takoyaki. Handwritten signs may help steer you toward oden (fishcakes in dashi broth), grilled fish collars, miso-braised eggplant, or beads of raw octopus riled with wasabi, but the star of the show is the richest tonkatsu ramen you’ve ever had. Would we bathe in that silky, savory pork goodness? Yes, yes we would.
At Justin Holt’s no-reservations izakaya, the attention to ramen is bordering on obsessive. Noodles are made by hand in a process that takes four days and Holt even ages his own soy sauces. No stone goes unturned, no part of the process left untouched. The paitan ramen is creamy and luxurious and the gossamer chintan broth is fragrant with lemon oil. Though the small, 27-seat restaurant doesn’t take reservations, they are now offering curbside, contactless pickup.
Chef-owner Teiichi “Teach” Sakurai’s fine dining spot has been educating Dallas in the ways of traditional Japanese soba since 2008. The spot in One Arts Plaza offers other immaculate Japanese classics, the soba is where Sakurai’s dedication shines through. Unlike Chinese noodle pulling or making ramen, Japanese soba noodles are made from nutty-tasting, impossibly delicate buckwheat flour. Sakurai spent nearly two years mastering the art and now plies restaurant goers with both highly traditional and innovative takes on the noodle, including the soba “Bolognese.”
If your noodle craving airs on the side of the dramatic, Charlie Zhang’s hand pulled noodle performance—and it is a performance—is the ticket. After training in China and opening his own shop in Beijing, Zhang has brought his ancient art to Richardson. Whatever the finicky Texas weather, you can find something here to slake your craving. Imperial cold noodles, topped with bean sprouts and cilantro, are a light and refreshing chew, while the beef noodle soup is flavor-packed and warming.
We don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that our last meal on Earth would be Monkey King’s spicy beef noodle soup. At this Northern Chinese street food spot, everything is made to order, including hand-pulled la mian noodles and xiao long bao aka soup dumplings. These juicy noodles are straight out of chef Andrew Chen’s post-nightclub dreams—the spicy garlic peanut option could cure any ailment, we’re sure. Though the timeline hasn’t been announced, this Deep Ellum gem has plans for expansion into Richardson and Lake Highlands.
Marugame specializes in handmade Sanuki udon noodles, a traditional noodle popular in the Kagawa prefecture of Japan and known for its satisfyingly chewy texture. The noodles at Marugame are made to order with a Japanese-imported kneading machine and ladled with dashi broth, curry sauce, or chicken broth. We have our eye on a warm bowl of curry nikutama, which dresses those succulent noodles in curry sauce, seasoned beef, and a quivering soft egg. If you choose to celebrate this National Noodle Day at Marugame, bring back your receipt at a later date for a bowl of kake udon, on the house.
Donny Sirisavath’s brick-and-mortar presents Laotian noodle bowls packed with tantalizing and funky flavors. Can’t pick between the tapas-style small bites and the variations of handmade rice noodle? Try a noodle flight, which features four popular but vastly different noodle options. Should you choose to dine outside on Khao’s patio this National Noodle Day, don’t sleep on the sukiyaki—bearing no resemblance to the Japanese that shares its name, this is a bowl of Laotian comfort food. Glass noodles, sesame seeds, and a soft yolk you mix in.
Matt McCallister’s restaurant is known for its seasonal focus and making everything on the menu from scratch. While there is an undeniable focus on produce, there is also pasta. In fact, there is a pasta station, from which clouds of ricotta gnocchi and ribbons of tagliatelle emanate, re-dressed depending on what’s ripe. If you National Noodle Day is more Italian in persuasion, check out the fusilli with bolognese or the butternut squash agnolotti.
We know it’s a drive, but hear us out. Tuan Pham opened Four Sisters last year in Fort Worth, and it’s worth the journey to sample his family recipe for beef pho, which stars rice noodles made from scratch and filet mignon. Though some things on the menu register a contemporary twist, nothing strays far from the cuisine’s roots. Pham, formerly of Fort Worth Japanese darlings Shinjuku and Tokyo Café, wanted to breathe life into the traditional Vietnamese dishes of his childhood. The beef pho is perfectly balanced and steeped in comfort, while the stir-fried pho option is tangy and lightly sweet, studded with crunchy bean sprouts and bok choy.