Sorry for the long silence, mes chéries, but I’m finally back after a long month and out of my Chinese New Year feast coma. February was definitely a bit of a rough one for me. As you may know from my Instagram stories, I managed to give myself a bilateral foot injury and was on bedrest for a while. But I’m almost healed, just in time to speed workout for my cruise in two weeks 😅 Wish me luck, because I look like pale tofu at the moment.
About a week ago, it was Chinese New Year! Whether you celebrate the Lunar New Year or not, it’s always a good excuse to dive headfirst into delicious Chinese cuisine and hope your cash flow increases ever so slightly 😂 Even though my family goes generations back in Taiwan, the Taiwanese still celebrate Chinese New Year traditionally. The new year started Friday, February 16th, and continues for fifteen days. This year is the year of the Dog.
Growing up, I went attended Chinese School on Saturdays (with all the other Taiwanese-Americans in the county practically neighborhood). Since none of us could actually make it home to Taiwan for New Year with working parents and school, we always had a huge show at party for Chinese New Year where we embraced as many traditions as possible. These include the Dragon Dance, handing out red envelopes with cash in it, hanging lanterns, and eating food that is supposed to bring you good fortune like whole chicken or fish (prosperity), pork, dumplings (wealth), spring rolls (wealth), sweet glutinous rice balls (tang yuan) for dessert (family and love), nian gao or glutinous rice cake (growth and moving on to higher and greater things), and large round golden colored fruits like oranges or pomelos (good fortune).
Luckily, one of the most important dishes you must eat is my favorite food, noodles! The longer the noodles the better. Long noodles are supposed to symbolize a long and good life. It’s why you do your best to eat it all in one bite rather than cutting it off at a certain point. So I figured, what better time than now to show you my top favorite noodle spots thus far?
In no particular order…
120 First Avenue
New York, NY 10009
Located on the east end of East Village, The Tang is a contemporary shop that serves Chinese and Taiwanese dishes and noodles. From scallion pancakes and pork buns to oxtail beef bone noodle soup and zha jiang mian, I love coming here when I miss the authentic dishes I would get at street-side shops back in Taiwan.
The portion size is filling, and the appetizers are not too oily or greasy. The noodles are all savory with very full-bodied aromas and tastes, but not overdone. The last thing you want is to float out of dinner looking like a sodium-bloated balloon, right?
My top recommendations are the ZJM, Drunk Noodles, and Braised Beef Noodle Soup. Don’t believe me? Check out their Instagram and have fun drooling…
Bao Bao Café
61 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10010
This small little hole-in-the-wall eatery seats maybe four or five parties maximum, but don’t let the size fool you. It’s a popular amongst those in the neighborhood and the students at Baruch across the street not because of its convenient location but rather because of its savory flavors. The portions are a decent size and quite filling, especially if you order their signature dry Bam Bam Noodles. They also serve rice-based entrées and delicious authentic Chinese appetizers.
If you’re in the mood for quick, cheap, but filling eats or a decent take out place, this is definitely a place to check out!
Xi’An Famous Foods
Locations all across Manhattan/New York City
This is my #1 go to spot when I’m lazy AF, in athleisure, and in the mood for a bowl of savory noodles at a low price. Xi’An has a large selection of authentic Western Chinese dishes from appetizers to main dishes. Served in paper bowls and plates, it gives the impression of cheap street food. However, one bite and you won’t even care or remember what it is served in. The soups are delicious and slurp-able. The dumplings are large and very juicy. The hand-pulled noodles are delightfully chewy and never too soggy from the soup. The burgers are large and hearty with meat seasoned just right to not overwhelm you with sodium and spice.
This is by far my favorite place to eat when I crave an authentic and hearty bowl of Chinese noodles. Check it out for yourself!
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003
Momofuku Noodle Bar was one of the first noodle places I tried when I was still in college and interning in New York during summers. Although it’s been a while since I’ve been able to go back, I will never forget the juiciness of their baos and how delicious their noodles were. The restaurant puts a slight western twist on their dishes, making it more of an asian fusion noodle bar rather than a traditional Japanese noodle restaurant. The restaurant is small, loud, bustling, and often has long waits which pressures you to finish your meal a little faster than you probably anticipate to. However, that didn’t stop me from ever thoroughly enjoying my orders every time I went.
The portions of the noodle entrées are deceptively filling and the flavors distinct while blending together seamlessly. The menu changes daily making it hard for me to recommend an exact dish. However, there are a few classics to try, such as the Momofuku Ramen or Spicy Chilled Noodles in the summertime. Some people find the dishes overrated, but to be honest I have yet to leave feeling unsatisfied.
My only complaint: slight bit overpriced. But what can you do, it’s New York after all.
435 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10016
If you’re in the mood for a very savory bowl of Japanese ramen, check out Kame Ramen! Not only do they have delicious takoyaki appetizers, their flavors are so rich and full that you are guaranteed to leave feeling like your cravings were satisfied. The pork in the noodle dishes practically melt in your mouth with the broth. If you’re unsure of what to try, the regular and spicy tonkatsu noodles are classics that you cannot go wrong with.
While I love Kame, I will say if you’re prone to sodium bloating like I am, don’t drink all the soup. Since the flavors are on the heavier and full-bodied side, the more you drink the heavier you’ll feel after your meal. Definitely watch your portions as you eat, but don’t stop yourself from indulging in the mouthwatering dishes!
65 4th Ave
New York, NY 10003
You didn’t think I would list out my favorite noodle places without mentioning Ippudo, did you? Although there are two other locations, this Ippudo in East Village is the most popular, often with a 2-hour wait. Upon walking into the seating area, your hostess announces your arrival and the entire staff greets you with a Japanese welcome, いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase), and bids you a goodbye when you leave. Known for it’s authentic Japanese ramen, Ippudo serves a delicious array of different types of ramen.
Unlike Kame, the flavors are not as intensified; spicy broths are a little tamer than expected. This might underwhelm you if you have very high expectations for the restaurant, but a blessing in disguise because you won’t leave feeling like a heavy bloated weight.The noodles are also a bit thinner than the average ramen noodle and made a bit harder and a little less chewy. The portion sizes are just enough to keep you full without drowning in food coma. Tip: be sure to add an egg into your noodles!
One thing I will say is while the service is friendly and fast, the wait is very long and therefore you feel a slight bit rushed to finish and leave.
There you have it! My favorite noodle places in the city. If you’re ever in the mood for a good bowl of noodles or ramen, be sure to check some of them out. Once I recover from my bedrest shopping this month, I’ll be returning to enjoy more dishes at theses places. Until then, it’s just me and my cheap Shin ramen.
Bisou, bisou mes chéries…
*Note: Not all photos are mine! Most are taken off Yelp or Instagram. Credits go to their rightful owners.