Strings of cooked wheat or rice flour dough entangled in chopsticks can be as comforting as stews on a cold day (in our book anyway). Each bite may be silent or result in an audible slurp that some chefs take as a compliment, but the satisfaction that follows a meal of (good) noodles is consistent across the board. Whether served dry with condiments or doused in different kinds of broth, noodles have found a place in many East Asian restaurants in Dublin, and here's where we think -serve the best in the city.
Dan Dan noodles, China Sichuan
Most dan dan noodles you’ll find in Dublin use minced meat, but China Sichuan’s version is suitable for vegetarians. Chilli oil and vinegar are mixed into the noodles, which come topped with crushed nuts. The chilli oil lends the noodles a moist quality without making them unpleasantly greasy, and the crushed nuts add a layer of texture. A bowl is enough to satiate two people if you order a main to go with it.
Hand-pulled noodles with spicy lamb, Lee’s Charming Noodles
A spice paste, coriander and chopped scallions add colour and flavour to the noodles and lamb that make up this dish at one of Parnell Street’s best establishments - Lee's Charming Noodles. Sichuan peppercorns are the star ingredient in the paste, making it spicy but not in an unbearable way. The freshness of the noodles is a testament to the kitchen’s competence and the chunks of lamb are cooked medium-rare. One portion is enough to make two meals for one.
Rice noodles in pho, Pho Kim
We feel spoilt for choice at Pho Kim, with different types of pho including beef, chicken or prawn. The rice noodles are a constant feature, though, and the heart of their Vietnamese noodle soup. Served with fresh scallions, coriander, mint and lemon wedges, each bowl of pho is a substantial meal that warms the insides. The beef version comes with sliced steak, slow-roasted brisket and meatballs.
Yaki Soba, Zakura
It might be the norm to visit Zakura for sushi and bento, but the yaki soba is a reason to visit too. Egg and wheat flour noodles tossed with tofu and vegetables or chicken and prawns, this yaki soba is garnished with a fried egg and shallots. The flavours are delicate with a hint of Worcestershire sauce, giving the dish a slight sweetness. A pot of hot sake makes a good accompaniment and periodic sips work as a palate cleanser.
Malatang, M&L Chinese Restaurant
Glass noodles and a spicy broth form the base of malatang, a kind of noodle soup that also uses tofu, sliced lotus root and mushrooms. Despite being transparent originally, the glass noodles take on the deep red colour of the broth. It’s tough to find malatang on most other Sichuan menus in the city, and M&L does it justice in multiple ways. The portion is huge and enough to make four meals for one, and the spice level is high enough to make your nose water.
Fried noodles, Shi Wang Yun
There are good noodles, and then there are excellent ones. The fried noodles at Shi Wang Yun fall into the latter category. Tossed with sliced onions and peppers, they’re thicker than most other noodles you’ll find in Dublin. The chunkiness is pleasant without being stodgy and makes each mouthful satisfying. Order one of Shi Wang Yun’s gravy mains to go with them and you’ll find yourself eating more than your appetite demands.
Biang Biang Noodles, Xian Street Food
Wide, flat noodles aren’t the norm - at least not in Dublin. However, Xian Street Food’s biang biang noodles have taught everyone that good noodles needn’t be thin and delicate. They’re hand-pulled and mixed with a generous amount of chilli oil, and toppings include vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, duck or prawns. It’s wise to ask for a medium-spicy version if your spice threshold isn’t too high.
Noodles in Ramen, Soup
Ramen at Soup (Dun Laoghaire and Smithfield) can have kimchi, shoyu, shio, miso, satay or extra hot seasoning, but the noodles that go into all the types of broth are the same - freshly made and filling with their chicken, pork, vegetarian or vegan toppings. Garnished with scallions and a seasoned egg, bowls of ramen at Soup are always a good idea.
Pad Thai, Baan Thai
It’s hard to go wrong with food at Baan Thai, and pad thai is just one of the restaurant’s many strengths. With homemade tamarind sauce, a hint of sweetness defines the pad thai at Baan Thai. Rice noodles are tossed with bean sprouts, egg, scallions and ground peanuts, resulting in a pleasant mix of textures. The lemon wedge that comes as a garnish has its use too - it lends a slight tartness to the dish and cuts through the noodles well.
Chicken Noodles, Wok In Noodle Bar
Takeaway chains aren’t the first to spring to mind when thinking of good noodles, but Wok In Noodle Bar proves that sometimes simple is best. The noodles are the kind you’d find at Chinese buffets, although the place describes itself as “Thai fast food”. At €4.95 for a portion of plain noodles, the prices are very humble. Noodles with chicken or prawns, however, go slightly above €8. Eaten with the complimentary chilli oil, these noodles are great for when you don't have time for a sit-down meal.
Chow Mein, Ka Shing
Better known for its dumplings, the kitchen at Ka Shing also knows how to make noodles worthy enough to warrant a visit. A bit dry on its own, the chow mein goes well with most gravy dishes on the menu. One portion of chow mein is good enough for one person if you aren’t ordering any starters, we you can wash them down with a pot of steaming jasmine tea, which will also counter some of the grease.
Pad Thai, Nightmarket
The pad thai at Nightmarket is similar to Baan Thai’s because it has the same slight sweetness and comes with tofu, egg, bean sprouts and ground peanuts, but different because the rice noodles are thinner. Given that Nightmarket’s menu is on the modern side, there’s also the option to choose between rice noodles and glass noodles, and topping include vegetables and tofu, chicken or prawns.
Newcomer Nomo Ramen import their ramen noodles from Sun Noodles in the US - Momofuku founder David Chang's noodle maker of choice. The wavy, bouncy noodles come in a rich, eight-hour broth with either chashu pork, chicken or roasted tomato (vegan), as well as a free-range marinated egg, leeks, spinach and scallions. Nomo don't overload their bowls, with simplicity letting their ingredients shine.