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The Mein Event: OC's Best Noodles

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

DAO XIAO MIÀN
Dao xiao miàn means "knife-cut noodles" in Chinese, and that's exactly how these thick, chewy noodles start life—as a giant rubbery ball of dough. While Mas' Islamic Restaurant is best known for its halal dishes, it also offers a great dao xiao miàn. Watch the shi fu (the chef) pick up a huge cleaver and flick enormous, triangular noodles into a wok of boiling water. Force yourself to not wince as he speeds up, the ball of dough getting smaller and closer to his hand. The chef then stir-fries the noodles with lamb and vegetables, giving just the slightest char to the noodles' edges. Try to stop salivating, then head back to your seat to scarf down an enormous portion of this Shaanxi specialty. 601 E. Orangethorpe Ave., Anaheim, (714) 446-9553.

SPAGHETTI
Anaheim can change, Anaheim can burn, Anaheim can turn from working-class white to majority Latino with a hell of a lot of Filipinos and Arabs thrown in—but everyone needs to eat Italian, so Rufino's Ristorante Italiano remains. The old couple that stood guard over tradition here for decades no longer owns the place, but you'll still find the duo leading eaters to their tables in a lovably gruff manner. And the spaghetti remains the same messy, tangy, tangle of love it has always been, complemented by the place's legendary house garlic bread. Don't believe us? Look at the crowd at any given moment—modern-day multicultural Anaheim at its best. 938 S. Euclid St., Anaheim, (714) 491-0880; www.rufinos.net.

LINGUINE WITH CLAMS
Franco, the moody, irascible man known lovingly by workers at John Wayne Airport as "The Pasta Nazi," has long retired, selling off his eponymous Franco's Pasta Cucina at this airport-close food court. But his spirit and exacting standards are still present in masterpieces worthy of a thousand Mario Batalis, except served on Styrofoam plates next to a salad, garlic bread and a drink—all for about $10. The best has to be the linguine with clams, in which generous fistfuls of the bivalve are folded into a buttery concentrate redolent of garlic. The noodles are coaxed and caressed in a sauté pan to soak up this ambrosia, just as Franco would do when he ruled the Michelson Marketplace food court with an iron fist. 2222 Michelson Dr., Ste. 206, Irvine, (949) 852-4699; www.francospasta.com.

Pasta Trio at Rufino’s Ristorante Italiano
LP Hastings
Pasta Trio at Rufino’s Ristorante Italiano
Various noodle dishes cooking at Franco's Pasta Cucina
LP Hastings
Various noodle dishes cooking at Franco's Pasta Cucina

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

DAN DAN MIÀN
Fuchsia Dunlop writes about men in Sichuan walking with pots of boiling water and trays of ingredients balanced on yokes across their backs, ready to make dan dan miàn, the region's legendary noodles. These days, they're restaurant fare more than street food, but the simplicity is still there; ground pork, chile oil, scallions and pickled mustard greens tossed with rice noodles. Somehow, those five ingredients—six, if they toss some chopped peanuts in—make a transcendent dish. And the best place to have this peddler's delight is Chóng Qing Mei Wei, a Sichuanese gem tucked in the corner of one of Irvine's Chinese plazas near the 99 Ranch store. 5406 Walnut Ave., Ste. C, Irvine, (949) 651-8886.

FIESTA NOODLES
There's a subclass of food the Filipinos call merienda into which pancit palabok falls. But this noodle dish, which is best described as Pinoy pad Thai, is more than just an afternoon snack. Jollibee's pancit palabok (rebranded as Fiesta Noodles for Westerners who can't pronounce "pancit," let alone "palabok") is ready in a fast-food foam box when you order it. Required are satchels of prepackaged lemon juice. Pour at least four packets over the noodles, then stir it all together well before slurping up the annatto-tinged mass. In between the gravy-covered, hair-thin strands, there are ground pork, a few bay shrimp, some cut rounds of hard-boiled egg and a shower of crumbled pork rinds. Now you know why you need all that lemon juice. 605 N. Euclid St., Anaheim, (714) 635-0265; www.jollibeeusa.com.

BÚN MANG VIT
Duck noodle soup at a pho shop? Duck noodle soup at the best pho shop in Orange County? Well, if you're there on the weekends, yes; while Pho Thanh Lich dishes out delicious, unbelievably cheap pho, it's worth the extra few dollars to try the bún mang vit, a combination of roasted duck leg, thin rice noodles, and bamboo shoots cut and simmered until they're tender yet still crunchy. The noodles swim in a fairly standard, rich poultry broth, which just begs for all the doctoring with limes, herbs and chiles wonderfully endemic to Vietnamese food. 14500 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 531-5789.

TONKOTSU RAMEN
If you could liquefy a pig into a big bowl in a "Wonder Twins power, activate!" move, you'd have Jinya Ramen Bar's rich tonkotsu pork soup. Though other ramen specialists in the county also make this, the recently opened Jinya by far draws the most richness and flavor into its pork extract. Perfectly cooked thin ramen noodles and always-tender slices of pork chashu; heaping spoonfuls of toasty, fried shallots and garlic; and most important, the most perfect still-runny-in-the-yolk soft-boiled egg in the business. You say you're not down with the swine? No problem. Jinya also makes an all-chicken version as rich as its pork soup, as well as an all-vegetarian ramen. 1450 Baker St., Ste. C, Costa Mesa, (714) 424-0377.

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My Voice Nation Help
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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