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The Mein Event: OC's Best Noodles

Noodles, noodles everywhere, from pho to pad Thai and everything else

The Mein Event: OC's Best Noodles

When doing a cover story about noodles, the first thing you need to do is get rid of all the bad headlines that quickly pop into your cliché-addled brain. "Oodles of Noodles!" "Noodling Around!" "Noodle Knowledge!" "My Life As a Noodle!" "Portrait of the Artist As Young Noodle!" Um . . . yeah.

One thing that isn't silly, though, is the concept. Next to meat and rice, the noodle is perhaps the most universal of entrées, endlessly customizable and more diverse than Santa Ana. Noodles can be dainty or hefty, as thin as gossamer or thick enough to tie down a mast. Slathered in sauce, or presented as a salad. In intricate networks, or steaming in soup. Vietnamese. Chinese. Italian. Peruvian. Jewish. And Orange County is chockablock with them.

We're not known as a noodle destination as much as we are for burgers and tacos, but that's only because we take them for granted. Fact is, OC worships the noodle, so we decided to highlight some of the best, in as many traditions as possible. And it's true: There's no chow mein entry. Call us a wet noodle, if you must. . . . Okay, we'll stop with the bad, and proceed with the good.

Noodles at Little Sheep
LP Hastings
Noodles at Little Sheep
Kasha Varnishkas at Katella Deli
LP Hastings
Kasha Varnishkas at Katella Deli

Location Info

Map

Quan Hy Restaurant

9727 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Westminster

Dx Peruvian Restaurant

3930 Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Restaurant > Latin American

Region: Santa Ana

Midan Al Tahrir

1324 S. Magnolia Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Anaheim

Katella Deli

4470 Katella Ave.
Rossmoor, CA 90720

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Los Alamitos

Dat Thành

10032 McFadden Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Westminster

Jagerhaus

2525 E. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: Anaheim

Rufino’s Ristorante Italiano

938 S. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92802

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Anaheim

Franco's Pasta Cucina

2222 Michelson Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Irvine

Chong Qing Mei Wei Szechwan Restaurant

5406 Walnut Ave.
Irvine, CA 92604

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Irvine

Jollibee and Red Ribbon Bakery

601 N. Euclid St., Ste. A
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Fast Food

Region: Anaheim

Pho Thanh Lich

13135 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

Jinya

1450 Baker St., Ste. C
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Costa Mesa

Fukada Restaurant

8683 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Irvine

Cucina Alessa

520 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Huntington Beach

Cucina Alessa Restaurant

234 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Laguna Beach

Cucina Alessa

6700 W. Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Newport Beach

Thai Nakorn

12532 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Garden Grove

Thai Nakorn

11951 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Stanton

Vientiane Thai Laos

10262 Westminster Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Garden Grove

Vien Dong

14271 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

O-udon

17879 Newhope St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Fountain Valley

Thai & Chinese Express

2540 Main St.
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Irvine

Warung Pojok

13113 Harbor Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Garden Grove

Pho Dakao

15532 Ward St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

Pho Crystal Noodle House

3037 S. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Santa Ana

Trieu Chau

4401 W. First St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Santa Ana

Quan Hop Restaurant

15640 Brookhurst St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Westminster

Ramen Yamadaya

1175 Baker St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Ramen

Region: Costa Mesa

Cafe Hiro

10509 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cypress

Mami King

6901 La Palma Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Buena Park

Mas' Chinese Islamic Restaurant

601 E. Orangethorpe Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Anaheim



Mì is the pride of central Vietnam, a noodle dish so perfectly balanced it causes intense homesickness in expats from Quang Nam. Springy rice noodles have been painted yellow with turmeric, then are tossed with shrimp, pork, sesame-studded rice crackers called bánh da, roasted peanuts, just a tiny bit of intensely flavored broth, and a host of herbs ranging from mint to shredded, lime-soaked banana flower. The dish is as much about the mix of textures as it is about the mix of flavors, and Quan Hy is where central Vietnamese expats go to get their fix. This place is also famous for its Latino waiters who speak better Vietnamese than second-generation Viet kiddies. 9727 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 775-7179.

TALLARÍN VERDE
The American popular imagination pegs Peruvian cooking as one long riff on potatoes and ceviche, but the Andean country has a long multicultural tradition that sees African, Japanese, Chinese and Italian influences permeate its cooking. It's the latter that's the culinary ancestor of tallarín verde, which is nothing more than spaghetti noodles in a pesto sauce, but DX Peruvian livens it up with a heavier amount of ginger and soy. The Machu Pichu on this mass, however, is the perfectly breaded chicken milanesa, adding crunch and greasiness to an already-hearty meal. 3930 S. Bristol St., Ste. 107, Santa Ana, (714) 424-0014; www.dxperuvianrestaurant.com.

KOUSHARI
Despite its closeness to Italy, Egypt's cuisine is pretty free of noodle influences, save for this gargantuan feast. It's the Egyptian equivalent of Rice-A-Roni: a pilaf of lentils and chickpeas topped with macaroni, spaghetti and enough fried onions to make a hamburger stand proud. You dump marinara sauce onto the plate, as well as a curious garlic sauce similar to an incredibly pungent vinaigrette, and it's like the whole Mediterranean Sea on a heaping plate. Midran Al-Tahrir was the first in the county to serve it, but it's such a great dish that other Arab restaurants are following suit and starting to break from their falafel-and-shish kebab handcuffs to feature it—mark our words, koushari will become the next hummus. 1324 S. Magnolia Ave., Anaheim, (714) 844-2515.

KASHA VARNISHKAS
Ask any American Ashkenazi Jew of a certain age which carbohydrate makes them think of bubbeh, and chances are the response won't be matzoh or challah, but kasha varnishkas. Kasha are buckwheat groats (no, we don't know what a groat is either; it's akin to buckwheat barley) and varnishkas are bowtie pasta. The kasha is washed with egg and boiled, then mixed with sautéed onions and the pasta. It sounds simple, but it's great and very comforting. The only place in the county to get this taste of home is at Los Alamitos' Katella Deli. Try it with a chicken cutlet. 4470 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-8611; www.katellabakery.com.

BÚN
Of the various noodle dishes in the Vietnamese galaxy, bún is the most deceptively simple: vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce, julienned carrots and your choice of toppings, all baptized in fish sauce—no more, no less. Helpful restaurants translate it into English as "noodle salad," but that gives the false impression it's a bunch of tasteless roughage thrown into a bowl. Bún is actually a nuanced, brilliant thing, filling yet light on the stomach, and the best version around is at Dat Thanh, famous in Little Saigon for its broken-rice dishes and magnificent nem nuong cuon. Get the one with the egg rolls, fried lengths of crispy goodness. 10032 McFadden Ave., Westminster, (714) 650-0910.

SPÄTZLE
The dictionary says spätzle are dumplings. Nonsense! They're egg, milk and flour, and they're rubbed through a sieve and dropped into boiling, salted water until they float; any Italian or Chinese person would call them noodles. Noodles or not, spätzle are an indispensable, nutmeg-scented accompaniment to any braised dish in a German restaurant, right next to strong pickles and dark bread with sweet butter. At Jägerhaus, they're made with a mixture of flours that gives them the perfect snap, a texture retained even if you drench them in the meat gravy meant for your main dish. Die sind sehr lecker! 2525 E. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 520-9500; www.jagerhaus.net.

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8 comments
Kimilsung
Kimilsung

So not a single Corean place (neng myun, kal gooksu, chachangmyun, yukejang, sulangtang)? That's jacked up yo.

mhschepers
mhschepers

Interesting, there are fideos Chinos, fideos de Vietnam, fideos Japoneses, fideos Filipinos, fideos Alemanes, fideos Italianos, and so on but no Mexican Fideos, considering we are in SoCal it is shocking, what is even worse I did a search on google and yelp, from LA to San Diego, with only a handful of places showing up online, Gustavo there must be  places that sells Fideuà Mejicana (Sopa Seca) otherwise it should put it on the socal endangered dishes list, plenty of places selling fideos in San Antonio though, please tell us Gustavo!

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

 @mhschepers I can count the number of places in Southern California selling actual cuina catalana on one finger: the annual picnic of the Casal dels Catalans, usually in May near Cal State Dominguez Hills. Paella, amanida, pà i postre.

 

Why don't you open a real Catalan restaurant? Introduce Southern California to the wonders of arròs nègre, fideuà, esqueixadas, olladas, escudella, suquet de peix ... I'd pay a lot of money for a real calçotada.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @mhschepers There used to be one place in SanTana that sold great fideo, but it's gone! Sounds like an Ask a Mexican question to me!!!

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

 @mhschepers

 Well, there ya go, lifelong So. Cal. resident and here's a Mexican-style dish I'm not familiar with. I'd love to have the opportunity to give it a taste.

 
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