Your Guide to O.C.’s Finest Noodles

Your Guide to O.C.’s Finest Noodles
Noodles provided by Fork & Knife in Costa Mesa, HiroNori Craft Ramen in Irvine, Ramen Tayō-sei in La Habra, Pho Dakao in Fountain Valley, and Brodard Chateau in Garden Grove. Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Editor’s Note: This list was compiled before the most recent stay-at-home order. Please double-check with each restaurant on their current offerings. 

An age-old staple spanning multiple cultures and cuisines, noodles are the ultimate comfort food. The tradition of handcrafting the golden strands from scratch lives on at many local restaurants. From steaming bowls of ramen to savory plates of pappardelle, here are 46 of our favorite noodle and pasta dishes in Orange County. 

By Benjamin Epstein, Astgik Khatchatryan, Gretchen Kurz, Michelle Pagaran, and Chelsea Raineri


NOODLE SOUP

Spicy tonkotsu ramen at Silverlake Ramen; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen
L.A.-based Silverlake Ramen opened its first O.C. locations over the summer. The stylish outposts feature neon signs and open dining rooms. If you’re a heat seeker, get The Blaze with egg noodles in milky tonkotsu broth, bean sprouts, spinach, crispy seaweed, and a soft-boiled egg ($14.25). Add pork chashu (grilled pork belly) for $3.95. Irvine, 949-932-0640; Huntington Beach, 714-902-1055

Mentai Kamatama Udon
Marugame Udon has plenty of broths to choose from, but this bowl is one of the cafeteria-style eatery’s more unusual and deeply satisfying options. With a slightly poached egg, mildly spicy cod roe, shredded seaweed, and dashi-shoyu sauce, it’s creamy, like a briny carbonara. You can watch the noodles being kneaded and rolled as you walk in. $7.50 to $8.25. Costa Mesa, 714-619-5688

Spicy Beef Rice Noodles
The dishes at Noodology draw inspiration from traditional recipes from various regions in China. This fiery bowl of rice noodles features pickled peppers balanced with tender slices of beef, bok choy, peanuts, and cilantro ($11). Craving more heat? Try the noodle soup with green and red chile peppers ($11). Irvine, 949-336-7338

Green Chili Shio Ramen
This dish at Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai is a lean, mean, green-themed machine enhancing clear pork broth and toro chashu with napa cabbage, chives, and green chile. Add-ons? Spicy shredded green onion and extra green chili paste, of course! $11.25. Multiple O.C. locations

Chicken Paitan Ramen
The broth at Kashiwa Ramen is made from chicken bone stock and simmered for hours over high heat. It’s a unique alternative to the more common tonkotsu (pork bone) broth with the same full-bodied taste. The bowl comes with green onions, matchstick wood ear mushrooms, chicken or pork chashu, and your choice of noodle texture (thin and straight or thick and wavy). Add a soft-boiled egg ($1.25) and seaweed ($2). $10.50. Costa Mesa, 657-232-0223

Hakata Ramen
Customize your bowl of ramen—down to the firmness of the noodles—at Shin-Sen-Gumi. The chain specializes in Hakata ramen, a tonkotsu broth with wavy, thin noodles. Choose from a long list of toppings such as the green butterbomb (Thai green chili butter). You can also order udon at the Irvine restaurant. $7 to $19.85 Locations in Anaheim, Irvine, and Fountain Valley

Sopa Fideo
Toasted spaghetti noodles add that special something to Descanso’s brothy soup that layers tomato, avocado, crema, and queso fresco for belly warmth on a wintry day. Cup $5, bowl $9. Costa Mesa, 714-486-3798

Pork Cheek Ramen
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka has two O.C. counters, both tucked inside food courts at Mitsuwa Marketplace locations. The long-simmered pork-based broth is served in bespoke bowls meant to keep the soup warm. The tonkotsu toroniku bowl comes with your choice of broth flavoring (salt, soy sauce, miso, or spicy miso), a rare cut of pork cheek meat, kikurage mushrooms, a fish cake, and a pickled plum. $12.45 to $14.45. Irvine, 949-733-1101; Costa Mesa, 714-434-1101

Udon with robata at Roba Noodle; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Udon with Robata
Get the noodle combo at Roba Noodle, which comes with your choice of udon noodles, a protein skewer, and a veggie skewer ($13). The soft, chewy noodles and house-made broth pair well with the smoky, charcoal-grilled robata skewers. Try the beef kombu broth with salmon and shishito pepper skewers. Tustin, 714-389-5533

Short Rib Pho
Expect Thai-Vietnamese fare at Feu Noodle Bar, which opened earlier this year. Indulge in bone-in beef short rib with rice noodles in a flavorful beef broth ($14). Add some of the house-made garlic chili oil and try the spicy drunken noodles, a Thai specialty ($9). La Habra, 714-519-3877

Sansai Udon
Specializing in handcrafted udon and soba noodles, Fukada offers a variety of styles to choose from. The sansai (mountain vegetable) udon is loaded with an assortment of veggies such as green onions, lotus root, and carrots. Order a lunch or dinner combo and get a sushi roll or rice bowl on the side. $11.95 to $13.95. Irvine, 949-341-0111

Chicken Pho
Gloomy weather calls for a hearty bowl of wide rice noodles with organic, free-range chicken from Pho Dakao. The noodles are made fresh and served with tender, generous cuts of chicken in a clear broth, as well as a side of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and lime wedges. You can choose between light or dark meat, depending on your preference. Pro tip: Dip the chicken in the ginger sweet chile sauce. $9.50 to $11.50. Fountain Valley, 714-531-2009

Beef Flank Wide Noodles
The flat, wide noodles in the beef flank soup at Qin West Noodle have slightly frilly edges, which catch the savory broth and create an addictive, chewy texture. The dish also comes with ultra-tender cuts of beef, green onions, parsley, bok choy, and cilantro. $9.95. Irvine, 949-932-0465

Udon with Masa Dumplings
The house soup at El Mercado Modern Cuisine returns to the menu in time for winter. Expect udon noodles in a miso chicken broth with enoki mushrooms, pickled Fresno chiles, and toasted sesame. Chochoyotes (masa dumplings) that soak up the rich broth are a delightful addition. $13. Add chicken for $4 or pork belly for $5. Santa Ana, 714-338-2446

Inaniwa Udon
This soothing bowl at Kappo Sui features thin udon noodles in a clear broth with enoki mushrooms, duck breast, scallions, and a side of chile powder. The noodles are silky soft, making each slurp satisfying. It’s a noodle soup you’ll dream about on cold, rainy days. $10.50. Costa Mesa, 714-429-0141


COLD NOODLES

Sichuan Noodles
At Noodle St., an exhibition kitchen lets you observe the chefs preparing noodles from scratch. These hand-pulled cold noodles feature a proprietary Sichuan-style sauce and are topped with green onions and minced garlic. An addition of julienned cucumbers helps balance the heat. Try it with the standard round noodles or, if you prefer a chewier texture, go for the knife-cut option. $8.75. Fullerton, 657-217-5664

Green Tea Soba Noodles
The grilled salmon salad at Toast Kitchen and Bakery features Skuna Bay salmon and is served with green tea-infused soba noodles, frisee, mandarin oranges, radish, and crispy wontons. A sesame oroshi vinaigrette ties the refreshing dish together. $17. Costa Mesa, 949-873-5057

Kale Noodle Poke
Tossed in sesame oil, the kale-infused noodles are a popular start for bowls at Hawaii-based chain Pokeworks. Top your bowl with a choice of proteins (ahi tuna, tofu, salmon, shrimp, or chicken), sauce, and unique toppings such as Thai chile and toasted rice puffs. Consider the vegan pineapple dole whip for dessert. $8.95 to $13.95. Irvine, 949-629-3875; Laguna Niguel, 949-561-1400

Soba Sampler
Established in 1948, Tanakaya offers soba in several varieties. The buckwheat noodles are neatly served hot or cold on Japanese-style wooden trays. The shareable cold soba sampler lets you try six signature soba styles such as the ume shiso (plum paste and Japanese basil) with a side of fish-based dipping sauce. $13.50. Tustin, 657-231-6245


FRIED NOODLES

Seafood crispy egg noodles at Brodard Chateau; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Seafood Crispy Egg Noodles
At Brodard Chateau, crunchy egg noodles are arranged like a bird’s nest with a melange of shrimp, squid, scallops, and vegetables. As you work your way through the plate, the brown sauce underneath soaks and softens some of the thick strands. $15.95. Garden Grove, 714-899-8273

An’s Famous Garlic Noodles
The garlic noodles ($20) at gorgeous AnQi by House of An are ridiculously addictive. The history of noodles goes back thousands of years; pairing these svelte, sticky, golden, garlicky noodles with a pan-roasted Maine lobster is a matchup millennia in the making ($68). Costa Mesa, 714-557-5679

Chow Fun
These wide flat rice noodles at 48 Bistro Brea are pan-fried and come with your choice of protein: shrimp, beef, or chicken ($11 to $14). The noodles have a toothsome, springy chew with bean sprouts and bok choy for added texture. Want soup instead? Go for the wonton egg noodle broth ($11). Brea, 714-784-6666

Dan Dan Noodles
This Sichuan-style dish at Meizhou Dongpo is served in a bowl with fried ground pork, scallions, and a thick sauce made of sesame paste, chili oil, and ground Sichuan pepper. Fun fact: The noodles are named after the carrying poles street vendors used to peddle them. $6.95. Irvine, 949-433-5686

Vegetarian Yellow Noodles
Specializing in Vietnamese vegetarian fare, Hoa Sen offers a breadth of stir-fried noodles to choose from, including the yellow noodles with ample strips of soy protein, bok choy, and carrots. The wow factor? It comes out on a sizzling iron plate. $10.50. Garden Grove, 714-537-0077

Hong Kong-Style Chow Mein
As the name implies, Capital Noodle Bar specializes in a variety of noodle dishes, from chow fun to lo mein, vermicelli, and udon. For something different and decadent, we love the crispy, chewy egg noodles in this dish, which includes stir-fried Chinese broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and your choice of beef or chicken. $14 to $17. Locations in Brea, Costa Mesa, and Irvine

Uni Udon
Part of a $150 prix fixe dinner at Omakase by Gino, this deceptively simple dish consists of udon noodles fried with mentaiko (seasoned fished eggs) and house-made truffle oil. The signature item is then topped with freshly imported uni sourced from Japan or Santa Barbara, seasonal truffle shavings, and shiso flowers. Reservations required. Santa Ana, 657-231-6008


VEGAN NOODLES

Vegan miso ramen at Freesoulcaffé; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Vegan Ramen and Pasta
Savor bowls of vegan ramen and pasta on the idyllic patio at Freesoulcaffé. Get the rich miso broth with grilled king oyster mushrooms, bok choy, pickled ginger, black sesame seeds, and dollops of black garlic oil ($16). Or indulge in “chicken” fettuccini noodles with creamy Alfredo sauce ($18). Tustin, 714-371-0976

Vegan Sesame Miso Ramen
This isn’t our first-ever mention of the excellent noodles in sesame broth at Hironori, but to leave them off this list would be unthinkable. The toppings—tofu, broccolini, bean sprouts, corn, baby kale, and more—are worthy of the noodles themselves: a respectable feat considering the strands are skillfully crafted in-house with flour imported from Japan. A second O.C. location, Nandomo by Hironori, recently opened at Rodeo 39, a new food hall in Stanton. $14.50. Irvine, 949-536-5800

Vegan Spicy Miso Ramen
Satisfy your cravings at Huntington Ramen, which has a dedicated menu of flavorful, plant-based broths such as the spicy miso. All bowls come with thick noodles and an assortment of fresh veggies. Consider the vegan Hellfire bowl with carrot “bacon.” $9.95 to $10.95. Fullerton, 714-213-8228

Vegan Garlic Noodles
Fried in olive oil, this house special at Mitasie Vegan Cafe includes spaghetti noodles, grilled garlic, parsley, white button mushrooms, and an assortment of soy protein ($11.50). Also try the soy chicken Alfredo ($12) or the tamarind pad thai ($11.50). Locations in Dana Point, Huntington Beach, and Lake Forest


PASTA NOODLES

Vongole linguine at Centro Storico; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Vongole Linguine
A family-run spaghetteria and cafe in Old Town Tustin, Centro Storico makes a majority of the pasta in-house daily, including the linguine. It’s served al dente with fresh, juicy clams in a garlic white sauce. Enjoy the complimentary focaccia bread brought to the table. $19 to $23. Tustin, 714-258-8817

Spaghetti al Nero Seppie
Squid ink pasta is another way to say the name of this signature dish at esteemed Il Barone. The black ink adds a trace of salinity and a dash of drama to al dente strands tossed with cuttlefish and prawns. A silky sauce of garlic, tomato, and white wine complements all elements. $26. Newport Beach, 949-955-2755

Angel Hair Pasta
So light, so fresh, and yet savory. Never-mushy strands dance with garlic, tomato, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, Parmesan, and feta cheese in this satisfying dish that helped transform Zov’s Bistro into the local empire we love today. $16.95. Tustin, Newport Coast

Baked Basil Chitarra
At Brick Woodfired Cuisine, chef David Pratt adds fresh basil to the squared-off spaghetti, then bakes it with robust pork bolognese under a blanket of gooey fontina. $22 single, $32 share. San Clemente, 949-429-1199

Crawfish Pasta
This Cajun-style entree at Nguyen’s Kitchen is peppered with crawfish tail meat and hot sausage, and drenched in a house tomato cream marinara ($9.45). It’s the perfect mix of creamy and spicy. Add jumbo garlic shrimp for $4.95. Also try the signature garlic noodles with your choice of protein ($5.95). Orange, 714-771-5410; Costa Mesa, 949-873-5069

Spaghetti with Pink Sauce
You can’t go wrong with classic spaghetti at Buon Gusto—but upgrade your meat or marinara sauce to pink for an extra dollar and you’ll never look back. Topped with a blend of Parmesan and Romano cheeses, this dish is “chef’s kiss.” $11.95. Huntington Beach, 714-846-2600

Pappardelle al Brasato
This rich and savory dish from Trenta Pizza and Cucina features pappardelle noodles and melt-in-your-mouth braised short rib ragù. Pro tip: Don’t ask for any alterations to your dish. The chef creates the meals the way they were intended. $22. Costa Mesa, 949-270-6652

Short Rib Stroganoff
Buttered egg noodles are the essential foundation of this terrific dish, as demonstrated nightly at Reunion Kitchen & Drink. Cremini mushrooms, Dijon cream, and horseradish cream are also in the mix, along with a side of garlic toast. $25.95. Anaheim Hills, 714-283-1062


Handmade Noodles By …
Chefs Gino Buenanoce and Salvatore Ferrara of Antonello Ristorante

Which pasta is the most labor intensive?
GB: Lasagna with meat ragù and béchamel sauce
SF: Raviloli di Mama Pina, tiny raviolis filled with braised beef

What’s your favorite to eat?
GB: Gnocchi di Ricotta
SF: Spaghetti alla Pescatora

What was the first pasta you prepared?
GB: Orecchiette rapini (broccoli rabe), a signature dish of Italy’s Puglia region.

When did you make your first pasta?
SF: At 12 years old

Favorite pasta to make?
SF: Spaghetti alla Pescatora brings back childhood memories since my father was a fisherman.

What pasta is best for holidays?
GB: Linguine with clams
SF: Rotelle originale


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