Noodles are my most favorite thing in the world. I seek them out in every cuisine. Having tried so many different noodle dishes in D.C. it only seems fair to share what I have learned. From southern mac and cheese to Italian pasta to Japanese ramen, here’s a list of some of the best noodle dishes in D.C.
Q by Peter Chang’s Wuhan Noodles
As the king of Chinese food in this area, it is no wonder the best Chinese noodles are served at Peter Chang’s Q by Peter Chang. Chang’s wuhan noodles reign supreme of all his noodle dishes; the dish features noodles twirled in a nutty sesame paste sauce that is luscious, thick and creamy. The noodle dish hails from Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province which is where Chang’s mother is originally from. As such, it is also a rare dish to find in the D.C. where Sichuan Chinese food is more popular. Make sure toss the noodles before you eat them so you don’t miss a drop of the velvety sauce.
Centrolina’s Pappardelle with Basil Pesto
Chef Amy Brandwein, a James Beard nominee in 2017, 2018 and 2019, makes, in my opinion, the best pasta in town. Her menu at Centrolina changes daily, but the pastas she has served over the years are etched in my mind. From penne in a chunky, spicy tomato arrabbiata sauce to fragrant cacio e pepe spaghetti to pappardelle tossed with meaty wild mushrooms drenched in a cream and cheese infused sauce, each one is more flavorful than the last. My favorite however is her summer pappardelle where the noodles are swirled in a bright, earthy pesto and crowned with hunks of fresh, creamy ricotta cheese. It is Italian food at its absolute best: simple, seasonal, sensational.
Haikan’s Vegetable Ramen
When we think of Japanese noodles, of course we have to think of ramen. And the best ramen in DC is at Shaw’s Haikan. The noodles, flown in from Sapporo, Japan, are known for their springy, chewy texture. The miso-infused broth of the vegetable ramen is silky and super savory, the perfect vehicle for the noodles and a host unami veggies like mushrooms, corn, bean sprouts, spring onions, and nori. Be sure to get the spice bomb. Because all things in life are better with a spice bomb.
Laos in Town’s Wok Fried Noodles
The wok fried noodles at Lao in Town represent fried noodles often sold street-side in Asia. The wide rice noodles in the dish are soft and succulent, served in a small silver dish with a side of sriracha, so the heat element is to your taste. A handful of sprouts and green onion add a crunch note, and hunks of tofu bring a protein element to this dish. It is simple, but still full of flavor and uber satisfying.
Mandalay’s Nyat KaukSwe Gyaw
Burmese food is a sort of mix of Thai and Indian cuisines, in flavor and ingredients. One of my favorite dishes is the country’s rice noodle stir-fry, where flat noodles are tossed with soft yellow beans, romaine hearts, and crushed peanuts, and then drizzled with a smooth peanut sauce. The dish has a dense, nutty flavor from the sauce and the romaine adds a little bit of freshness, crispiness, and color. I get it every time I go.
Evolve’s Vegan Mac n Cheese
When I think of American noodles, I am immediately think of mac and cheese. My favorite mac and cheese in town happens to be vegan. Shocking I know, but don’t knock it until you try it. The simple elbow macaroni noodles are baked in a chickpea milk and nutritional yeast sauce, which is what I think makes all the difference. The chickpea milk is so nutty and rich and the nutritional yeast is so cheesy, the dish has more flavor than the average mac n cheese. The addition of herbs, spices and garlic make it even better. Seriously, one bite and you will be as addicted as I am.
DC Noodle’s Thai Red Curry Noodles
What I love about this dish is that come with a twist. Instead of traditional Thai noodles in their curry dish the venue uses bright, super chewy spinach noodles. Served in a silky red curry infused with the flavors of ginger, garlic and lemongrass along with sweet Asian pumpkin and fresh basil, the dish is bold, fragrant and bursting with flavor.
Sweet potato noodles sound weird, but they are actually delicious. Also called glass noodles, these noodles have a really mild flavor and when tossed with soy sauce and thinly sliced carrots, onions and mushrooms the noodles come to life.
Fusion: Italy + Japan
Daikaya’s Udon Cacio e Pepe
As you all probably know, cacio e pepe is a famous Roman cheese and pepper pasta dish that is served in many Italian restaurant. At Daikaya, the dish is made with thick udon noodles, which make the dish extra earthy as udon noodles are made with wheat flour. The fat noodles are perfect for soaking up the cheesy sauce. It’s like cacio e pepe 2.0.