The 13 Best Asian Noodles In Chicago
Noodles are an ultimate comfort food, regardless of season or location. The earliest recorded mention of noodles occurred in third century China. Today, from the Far East to Europe and Africa to mere blocks from your home, noodles are a staple of an everyday diet.
For this week's list, we decided to focus on the best noodle dishes with Chinese, Japanese and Thai origins. These are restaurants and dishes we believe you should be searching out and telling your friends. And you should tell us your favorites in the comments below, on Facebook and on Twitter.
Andy’s Thai Kitchen
While there are so many things we love on the Andy's Thai Kitchen menu, this list is about Asian noodles and our favorite such dish at ATK is the Kao Soy. It combines egg noodles with a yellow curry broth, chicken, red onion, mustard greens, peanuts, basil and lime, then topped with a nest of crispy noodles. This dish is a study in contrasts— sweet coconut milk in the curry and pungent mustard, soft chewy noodles mixed with crunchy ones. Together, it all works perfectly. — Benjy Lipsman
Andy’s Thai Kitchen is located at 946 W. Wellington Ave.
If there is one word to sum up Butterfly’s flavor, it’s "freshness." This multi-location Thai outlet is a welcomed relief from the usual inconsistency of mid-range Asian eateries. As a steadfast fan of Pad See Ewe, I can attest that the rice noodles at Butterfly always have a fresh and satisfying texture. The addition of snow peas and broccoli make for a bite that’s almost surprising, given the low $8 price tag. — Katie Karpowicz
Butterfly has locations at 1131 W. Madison St. and 1139 W.Grand Ave. (Their third location on Chicago Avenue is currently closed and undergoing renovations.)
Bridgeport is an epicenter of Northern Chinese cuisine with Northern City and Homestyle Taste. Potsticker House is the one that started it all and their wide cold noodles is one dish I always tip friends to when they pay a visit. It’s called an appetizer but it’s more accurately a main dish since the portion is so huge. And it’s teeming with sesame oil, root vegetables and thick chunks of seasoned pork. This is a dish that will last one person multiple meals. Two people could make it a date night dish. -Chuck Sudo
Potsticker House is located at 3139 S. Halsted St.
On my first visit to Slurping Turtle, when the giant steaming bowl of Tan Tan Men ramen was placed in front of me, my initial thought was, "holy cats, there's no way I'll be able to finish that!" Well, I did. And I’ve been back for more. When the weather turns frosty, it's one of the most delicious ways to ward off the chill. The spicy, sinus-clearing broth is loaded with pork in both meatball and chashu form, while the crispy bok choy and bean sprouts add a nice bit of contrast. And the noodles? Beyond compare. — Rob Christopher
Slurping Turtle is located at 116 W. Hubbard.
Late Night Thai
The usual late-night post bar-hopping options are fine. Pizza, tacos and hot dogs all do the trick. However, I always welcome a new offering. Should you find yourself out in East Lakeview after 9 p.m., I urge you to please try this place out. A recent change in location has allowed Late Night Thai to expand its sushi menu but it’s the noodles that make this an especially comforting end to the evening. Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, Lard Na and other common Thai-style dishes are all served up until 5 a.m. on weekends and 4 a.m. on weeknights. Be warned that some of the "crispy" noodle options can weigh heavily on the sodium, but for the most part the plates are all evenly bathed in flavorful sauces that will put you to bed with a smile on your face. — Katie Karpowicz
Late Night Thai is located at 1624 W. Belmont Ave.
While more and more excellent ramen spots keep opening in the city, some of the best options remain out in the Northwest suburbs. Ramen Misoya opened in Mount Prospect about a year and a half ago and quickly proved to be among the area’s best. You’ll be greeted by a boisterous "Irasshaimase!" before being handed a menu that features three three miso-based ramens: Kome, Mame and Shiro. The more common pork-based Tonkatsu appeared first as a special on their menu, but seems to have been promoted to their standard line-up. There are a number of recommended variations for each style of ramen, as well as a la cart toppings that can be added to customize each bowl. We’ve been a number of times and usually favor the richer flavors of the Kome Miso Cha-shu Ramen, which comes with sliced pork, corn and fried potato wedges in addition to the typical noodles and veggies. We like to top ours off with a sliced miso-marinated egg. — Benjy Lipsman
Ramen Misoya is located at 1584 S. Busse Rd. in Mount Prospect .
Chinese-Style Cold Noodles at Homestyle Taste/Photo: Melissa McEwen
This Chinese restaurant in Bridgeport is a great place to introduce yourself to the delights of Chinese-style cold noodles in the form of "Colorful Wide Noodle." Gelatinous noodles are covered with vinegar, sesame oil, chili and spices. Then you mix it with fresh vegetables like thin strands of cucumber, carrot and chewy wood ear mushrooms. It’s all topped with zesty tendrils of cilantro. The melding of so many textures and flavors makes for one outstanding noodle salad.— Melissa McEwen
Homestyle Taste is located at 3205 S. Halsted St.
A perfectly comforting selection at Trike during these cold winter months is their signature dish, Bangkok Beef Noodle Soup. Filled with vegetables and egg noodles, an intricate array of spices only adds more to the complexity of the broth that holds it all together. Trike’s Pad Thai noodles are some of my absolute favorite in the city thanks to their nutty and slightly smoky flavor. Tofu, veggies and chicken are my favored additions to the dish. Whether you get Pad Thai or this amazing soup, Trike delivers affordable and warming Thai cuisine in Logan Square. — Carrie McGath
Trike is located at 2539 N. Milwaukee Ave.
A good noodle dish for me has to have a bit of a bite and some heat along with a snap in the noodle. A slick of oil and not too much added extras so the noodles truly shine. One of my favorite simple and standout noodle dishes is the Spicy Hand-Made Korean Style Noodles at Tony Hu’s Lao Beijing. Behind their wide wooden door in Chinatown Square, Lao Beijing serves up a wide variety of dishes for different palates. This is the place I take my Mom when she visits to get orange chicken and crab rangoon while I’ll get something a bit more spicy. The noodles in this dish are toothsome with a nice amount of spring and firmness. They soak up chili oil and the various bits of slightly pungent, vinegary vegetables perfectly, creating a warm forkful of spicy, chewy noodles. It’s a perfect dish on a chilly winter day and just as lovely as cold leftovers the next morning. — Lisa White
Lao Beijing is located at 2138 S. Archer Ave.
This BYOB spot on a sparse stretch of reality is a ramen haven. The beauty is in the rich, creamy pork broth, which takes 45 hours to make. All four ramen dishes feature this broth and all the other necessities like a soy egg, scallions, sesame seeds, marinated bamboo shoot as well as a light serving of egg noodles. I like keeping it simple with the Tonkotsu, which includes black wood ear mushrooms, garlic oil and Berkshire pork belly. — Erika Kubick
Wasabi is located at 2115 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Since discovering the wonders of Chicago’s authentic Thai joints, I have coveted both curry and wide rice noodles but rarely find them together. Requesting the wide pan-fried noodles in lieu of white rice rarely does the trick— you might end up with a container full of plain noodles and a bowl full of curry and, ugh, it’s totally not the same! Tac Quick's Panang Noodle dish is thus a revelation. Panang curry differs from other curries in its use of thick cream of coconut and little to no other stock or liquid. Tac Quick’s version delights with both well-seasoned chicken and shrimp, broccoli, fresh jalapeño and dried peppers, topped of course with peanuts and fragrant kaffir lime leaves. This unassuming rendition hits every right note of spice, texture and comforting flavor.— Kristine Sherred
Tac Quick is located at 3930 N. Sheridan.
Mott St. likes to showcase the strong flavors of Asia that have become so deservingly popular in American cooking over the past decade, such as seafood-based sauces, kimchi and fermented bean pastes. Their noodle dishes change regularly, but one you shouldn’t miss if it's on the menu is the Mentaiko Udon, a veritable wellspring of savory flavors from stock, kimchi, bonito, soy sauce and seaweed. The main source of savory in these ingredients, glutamate, is sometimes added via the shortcut of MSG, but not here. Which is important because there is more to these ingredients than just savory— flavors of the ocean, sour, creamy, earthy. Other noodle dishes at Mott St utilize similarly flavorful ingredients like doubanjiang (spicy broad bean paste), bone marrow and miso. — Melissa McEwen
Mott St. is located at 1401 N. Ashland Ave.
Here’s a dish best served cold that will still heat up your insides. The depth of dining options in Chinatown Square rivals restaurant hot spots Randolph Street and Logan Square, from Tony Hu’s empire to the simpler food court fare along South Wentworth. Snack Planet has long been a favorite of mine with a surprisingly broad menu including shashlik, the Chinese equivalent to kebabs. But you’ll need some noodles to augment the skewered meat and vegetables and I recommend their Sichuanese Cold Noodles, which makes expert use of broad bean paste, sesame oil, crushed chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. The spice is immediate and pleasant while building to an intense creeper heat, with scallions and peanuts added to help keep your tongue from becoming a charred crisp. -Chuck Sudo
Snack Planet is located at 2002 S. Wentworth, B5.