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You need this: a plate of spice-dusted biang biang noodles at Xi'an Noodles, one of our Best Restaurants of 2016.

Image: Sarah Flotard

From vermicelli to pasta, may every day be graced with noodles. But, it's National Noodle Day on October 6, so that's a good excuse to get into a bowl of carb-y goodness too.

Dong Thap

A rare place that makes its own fresh rice noodles—a four-day ordeal of soaking, grinding, waiting, and extruding—for vermicelli bowls, pho, and other noodle soups like the fragrant, seafood-rich hu tieu. Dong Thap’s pure-tasting broths are too light for some, perhaps; there’s always hoisin and sriracha. But oh man. Those noodles. The difference is apparent almost down to a molecular level. (Noodles are also sold by the pound to take home.)

Il Corvo Pasta

Don’t underestimate this order-at-the-counter, lunch-only joint; its pasta is legitimately transcendent, and quantum leaps ahead of the field in creativity. Weekday mornings pasta geek Mike Easton blogs photos of that day’s handful of seasonal choices—maybe creste di gallo pasta with braised Treviso, garlic, chilies, and olives; maybe gnocchetti with sweet corn and sage—which pulls Pioneer Square office workers in droves. Easton’s repertoire is bottomless, his seasonality admirable, his passion winning. A couple of salads and a dessert round out the offerings, making this ticket to Italy no more than $15. Arrive early; lines can be epic.

Xi'an Noodles

Xi’an Noodles doesn’t offer much in the way of ambience, but nobody in line to place an order at the cash register much cares. They’re here for one thing: Those skeins of biang biang noodles, named for the sound that happens when chefs slap long strands of dough against a counter, creating the fissures that lead to those wide, perfectly chewy ribbons, the specialty of the northwest China city of Xi’an. Sampling this particular type of noodle used to require a trip to Edmonds or Redmond, but thankfully owner Lily Wu brought them into Seattle’s food ecosystem.

Little Uncle

After Goldilocks moments in spaces too small—the sidewalk takeout down the street—then too big—the Pioneer Square basement—the beloved Little Uncle has found its just-right. Mind you, the packed, modern space has limited seating—but wraparound windows help, and aromas from the open kitchen—tended by owners Wiley Frank and Poncharee Kounpungchart—evoke its heady citizen-of-the-world status. A $13-ish menu of terrific noodle bowls, starring phad thai (add the side packets of chiles and nuts and sugar if you want intrigue) and exquisite khao soi gai (chicken curry over egg noodles) is served 11am to 9pm, with an added card of shareables after 5pm. Execution remains the bugaboo, but it’s hard to care when so much else is just right. 

Raccolto

Brian Clevenger still preps pasta the way he learned at San Francisco’s esteemed Delfina—housemade noodles cook briefly in simmering water, but mostly in the saute pan with the sauce, and a few ladles of pasta water for good measure. The difference is subtle, but there’s an almost creamy dimension to the strozzapreti in a ragù of pork shank, an extra richness to the spaghetti that crackles with anchovy and chili flakes. Like its sibling, Vendemmia, Clevenger’s new restaurant in West Seattle is all about pasta, fish, and vegetables—with more pasta and more tables. Some dishes, like hamachi crudo or a salad of dungeness crab and snap peas feel more Northwest than Italian. Then again, isn’t using the best of what’s nearby and in season the most Italian approach of all?

Country Dough

This tidy counter in Pike Place Market offers the labor-intensive flatbreads known as guo kuieach one rolled by hand, griddled, then plunge it into the bowl-shaped oven, rather like a tandoor, beneath. Each one emerges crisp on one side, soft within, and is still hot when split and filled with pork, beef, or chicken in chili and sesame sauces with cilantro and pickled cucumbers. There are also a few hand-shaved noodle dishes, a longtime speciality of chef/owner Chengbiao Yang. Lines can be long.

Sen Noodle Bar

The owners of vegetarian Thai Jhanjay and Isan Pestle Rock added a casual noodle joint on Northwest Market Street where diners sit close together and inhale rich Southeast Asian noodle soups. If the build-your-own-adventure combinations seem daunting, head straight for this clear, porky broth full of leaner-than-usual barbecue pork atop egg noodles and a few of Sen’s excellent wontons.

Cascina Spinasse

The rustic Italian farmstead with the trestle tables and wrought iron chandeliers serves the best pasta in Pike/Pine, even Seattle: rich hand-cut Piedmontese egg-yolk noodles, tajarin, which clutch the ragu or the sage butter silkenly. The pastas all achieve density and delicacy at once—ravioli of rapini with pine nuts, maybe, or hearty cavatelli with chanterelles—but meat dishes, from rabbit to angelic heritage pork, can also be extraordinary. Think earthy, long stewed, rough cut, boldly flavored—and careful. Neighboring bar, Artusi, lets us drink like Italians too, with a menu of sophisticated Italian noshes and aperitifs.

Dueminuti

“Healthy pasta” sounds like the saddest trombone of all fast-casual concepts. But this Capitol Hill newcomer from two Tuscany natives delivers legitimately superb pasta—and with fewer carbs too. Pick your shape from the day’s offerings, which may include spaghetti, rigatoni, or big spirals of campanelle, then select a sauce like Sicilian pesto made with mint and almonds or braised hen with pistachios and citrus zest. Nuclear scientist–turned–chef Filippo Fiori extrudes pasta made from a legion of flours: quinoa, rice, rye, corn, and bean among them, the combination of which adds more fiber, more protein, and more satisfying bite.

Phnom Penh Noodle House

This spacious noodle house has been serving up Cambodian food since 1986. And no wonder—steamy, hot bowls of egg or rice noodles come served in a pristine, savory broth topped with everything from sliced pork to prawns to roasted duck. Beyond noodle soups, dishes like mee katang, curries, salted fish, lemongrass beef, tamarind sour soups all nod to the intermingled cuisines of southeast Asia.

Trove

Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi (Joule, Revel) fuse Korean food; that’s what they do. Here in Trove’s four operations in one—cocktail lounge, fast-food noodle bar, Korean barbecue dining room, parfait truck—the element being fused is fun. Twelve-buck noodle dishes from the counter up front might include Asian “spaghetti” with Swiss chard and meatballs; desserts from the clever sawed-off ice cream truck facade are classic frozen custard parfaits, some tweaked with Asian elements like miso caramel. (And don’t miss the visual puns all over the bustling red-ceilinged room, from the Godzilla–eats–Space Needle wallpaper to the whimsical scene inside the truck’s gas cap.) But the main event is Korean barbecue in the main dining room where tables have grills for DIY cooking of cuts like Wagyu chuck or pork belly with sesame salt. Take your meat off the heat, cut it with scissors, then dress it with the lettuce leaves and fresh herbs and kimchi and other Korean embellishments known as banchan and ssam—marveling as the flavors and textures ricochet around your palate, enhanced with every collision.


Want more beef? Get tickets to Seattle Met’s Cowabunga—a Carnivore’s Dream—featuring 3-days of chef competitions, demos, tastings, and the best beef in the Pacific Northwest. November 10th – 12th  – visit cowabungausa.com for more information and to get your tickets!

In this Article

Editor’s Pick

Trove

$$ Global, Korean 500 East Pike St. Seattle, WA

Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi (Joule, Revel) fuse Korean food; that’s what they do. Here in Trove’s four operations in one—cocktail lounge, fast-food noodle b...

Editor’s Pick

Phnom Penh Noodle House

$$ Cambodian 660 S King St.

This spacious noodle house has been serving up Cambodian food since 1986. And no wonder—steamy, hot bowls of egg or rice noodles come served in a pristine, s...

Editor’s Pick

Dueminuti

$ Italian 412 Broadway E

“Healthy pasta” sounds like the saddest trombone of all fast-casual concepts. But this Capitol Hill newcomer from two Tuscany natives delivers legitimately s...

Editor’s Pick

Cascina Spinasse

$$$ Italian 1531 14th Ave

The rustic Italian farmstead with the trestle tables and wrought iron chandeliers serves the best pasta in Pike/Pine, even Seattle: rich hand-cut Piedmontese...

Editor’s Pick

Sen Noodle Bar

$ Pan Asian, Thai 2307 NW Market St

Pestle Rock was the best Thai restaurant in Ballard. Until its owners opened a megacasual Southeast Asian noodle bar next door, where so much happens inside ...

Editor’s Pick

Country Dough

$ Chinese 1916 Pike Pl

This tidy counter in Pike Place Market offers the labor-intensive flatbreads known as guo kui, each one rolled by hand, griddled, then plunge it into the bow...

Editor’s Pick

Raccolto

$$ Italian 4147 California Avenue SW

Brian Clevenger still preps pasta the way he learned at San Francisco’s esteemed Delfina—housemade noodles cook briefly in simmering water, but mostly in the...

Editor’s Pick

Little Uncle

$$ Thai 1523 E Madison St

After Goldilocks moments in spaces too small—the sidewalk takeout down the street—then too big—the Pioneer Square basement—the beloved Little Uncle has found...

Editor’s Pick

Xi'an Noodles

$$ Chinese 5259 University Way NE

Xi’an Noodles doesn’t offer much in the way of ambience, but nobody in line to place an order at the cash register much cares. They’re here for one thing: Th...

Editor’s Pick

Il Corvo Pasta

$ Italian 217 James Street

Don’t underestimate this order-at-the-counter, lunch-only joint; its pasta is legitimately transcendent, and quantum leaps ahead of the field in creativity. ...

Editor’s Pick

Dong Thap

$$ Vietnamese 303 12th Ave S

A rare place that makes its own fresh rice noodles—a four-day ordeal of soaking, grinding, waiting, and extruding—for vermicelli bowls, pho, and other noodle...