New York City is a foodie’s dream, and since my last trip four years ago, I’ve been bookmarking restaurants I want to try to include everything from hole-in-the-wall eateries to restaurants offering a little more finesse. One of the things I wanted to check out was the array of noodles the city has to offer.
Xi’an Famous Foods has been bookmarked for years and I am excited to finally pay them a visit. There are many locations and we choose the one closest to our first hotel in Times Square. The restaurant is small and there is limited seating, but it is bustling with many “eating while standing” along a ledge in the back area.
Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles ($5.50-$6) is a plate of chewy wheat flour noodles, tossed with bean sprouts, cucumbers, cilantro, and cubes of spongy gluten. It is a vegetarian dish tossed in a dressing of soy sauce, black vinegar, garlic, and chili oil, although we requested it to be non-spicy so we can adjust the spice level accordingly. I love the texture and how clean it tastes. I didn’t mind the lack of spiciness, but would have preferred a little more sauce – although my non-spice loving friend absolutely loved it as is.
Spicy & Tingly Beef Hand Ripped Noodles ($7.50-$9.25) is a dish of long wide, hand-ripped noodles mixed with chunks of lean beef, with a spicy and palate tingling Sichuan peppercorn sauce. It was difficult to eat due to how long the noodles are, but they were packed with a robust flavor I love. Definitely for those loving spicy foods!
Soba-ya is located by New York University (NYU) and we arrive early on a weekend for lunch only to find a group already converged outside. Luckily, our group of four were able to secure a table. While some of us order other items on the menu, I made sure to order a cold and hot offering to see what the fuss was about.
Kamo Nanban Saute’ed Duck & Tokyo Negi ($21 regular/$23.75 large) is beautifully presented and has some of the best broth I’ve tasted in quite some time. The bold flavors are intense, but clean, while the duck is flavorful and tender. However, the soba noodles were overcooked and slightly mealy.
I can never resist uni, so Uni* Fresh Sea Urchin with Grated Mountain Yam ($25 regular/$27.75 large) is a must. I loved the slippery mountain yam combined with the umami of the uni, however, the soba was once again leaning too soft on the textural spectrum for me to deem them worthy of a special trip – unless we hit them on an off day.
On another day, we venture to the Union Square area and indulge in some of the best handmade udon I’ve ever tasted! At Tsurutontan Udon Noodle Brasserie, the restaurant offers up cold and hot noodles served in ginormous bowls larger than my head. Presentation is gorgeous, and the noodles are perfection.
The original TsuruTonTan opened in Souemon Cho, Osaka in 1979 and this year, the restaurant opened its first international location in New York City.
So many choices and not enough room in my stomach, or that of my friends, we decide on a few to share.
Tsurutontan Deluxe ($23) is a bowl of hot noodles topped with shrimp and vegetable tempura, fish cake, kitsune (fried tofu puff) and beef. The broth is outstanding and the noodles al dente and perfectly chewy.
Just when I thought the noodles were the best I’ve ever eaten, the Uni Udon ($24 ) arrives, a cold offering with udon possessing even more of a chew factor than the ones immersed in the hot broth. I am absolutely in heaven and slurped the uni coated strings with utter relish. I would have been happy eating here several times had there not been more restaurants to explore.