The Mein Event: OC's Best Noodles

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

CHICKEN PHO
If beef pho is the Albert Pujols of Vietnamese soups, then chicken pho is the Mike Trout: the unheralded, better prospect. At Pho Dakao, cluckers are king (or queen, as it were)—it offers eight types of chicken pho, from some containing giblets, tripe and other offal to straightforward chicken soup that Red Staters would slurp up if they didn't know it came from the hands of a Vietnamese. The noodles become as fluffy and slurpable as the Campbell's of your youth. Best of all? The chickens come from a sister poultry store, meaning what you just ate was probably clucking that very morning. 15532 Ward St., Garden Grove, (714) 531-2009.

HU TIEU COMBINATION NO. 1
Do not be alarmed. That piece of fried chicken is supposed to be in your bowl of noodle soup. Pho Crystal Noodle House will drop the hunk of crisply fried poultry in the liquid, a place the Colonel has never gone before. It will get tangled in the still-chewy strands of noodle and soak in the sweet, sugary broth that tastes distinctly of pig. It will be joined by char siu, steamed shrimp and a frilly leaf of slowly wilting lettuce. Some lemon squeezed into the bowl will round off the sweetness and have the bubbles of fat go skittering off. Go ahead and pluck out the chicken, then gnaw the meat from the bone. Lick your fingers if you have to—isn't that the point of fried chicken? 3037 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 668-1312.

CHAO CHOW RICE NOODLE
Bowls of Trieu Chau's Chao Chow Rice Noodles aren't for the faint of heart. A close sibling of pho, but really more Chiu Chow Chinese than Vietnamese, this is a noodle soup's noodle soup. You'll find hulking, inelegant chunks of liver and cleaver-hacked pieces of roasted duck. As such, spitting out bone fragments isn't frowned upon, but rather expected. The best part is the gelatinous flaps of duck skin, one component in a protein-laden bowl chock-full of shrimp, meat balls, fish cake and a lean hunk of pork. But as with all soups such as this, it's all about the broth, here a marvelously hot, glorious, mouth-filling nectar wrung from the soul of bird, hog and probably MSG. 4401 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 775-1536.

Pad Thai at Thai Nakorn
LP Hastings
Pad Thai at Thai Nakorn
Garlic Noodles at the Yard House
LP Hastings
Garlic Noodles at the Yard House

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: Huntington 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

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More About

BÚN RIEU
If pho is masculine, with beef balls and a musky broth wrung from ox bones, bún rieu is elegant and feminine, with its powder room at Quan Hop. Unlike pho noodles, the bún in bún rieu caresses the tongue in feathery wisps. You don't chew bún; you allow it to melt. The delicate, clear soup is rimmed with a chile-red rouge resembling a courtesan's lips and contains floating cubes of congealed blood cake. Figure-eight patties made of minced shrimp are as pink as naked skin. Search for the sea snail nubs, which chew softly with a thrilling finish. The loosely packed crab meatballs disintegrate in your mouth gentler than a lady's kiss. Also in the bowl will be a set of boiled tomatoes—supple, plump and perky. Do you get where we're going with this metaphor? 15640 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 689-0555.

TONKOTSU RAMEN (AGAIN!)
Ramen Yamadaya
's tonkotsu ramen is pure hog concentrate, culled from pig bones simmered for 20 hours to unlock all the collagen as well as all of its piggy potential. The end product is a soup closer to motor oil than broth. If the noodles, egg and slices of roasted pork weren't there, the liquid alone would still constitute a heart-stopping meal. Splatter from it will leave oil stains on your shirt. Get the kotteri, and you'll see a floating stratum of fat purposefully ladled on top as if it were liquid frosting. A red-spicy version of the broth spoons up as though it were thick Malaysian laksa, since it's so hearty. If there's a ramen soup so substantial it renders the noodles inconsequential, it's this one. 1175 Baker St., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-0091; www.ramen-yamadaya.com.

UNI SPAGHETTI
Uni is one of earth's greatest taste treasures. Crack open the Sputnik-like sea creatures, and you find one of the most naturally delicious ready-to-eat things the ocean produces. It has a sweetness akin to the richest egg yolk and a texture that is texture-less. At sushi bars, it's cuffed around a belt of nori or laid down on a ball of rice; but at Cafe Hiro, it's dissolved into sauce to coat strands of al dente spaghetti, creating a dish similar to those served on the Italian coast of Puglia. Since chef Hiro Ohiwa is a fusionist, he adds a crowning dollop of wasabi, a few wispy shreds of nori and some bread with which wipe up every precious, ocean-flavored drop. 10509 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 527-6090; www.cafehiro.com.

MAMI
You'll never see a noodle soup broth more evocative of chocolate milk than in the bowls of mami at Mami King. The brownness comes from the slow-braised hunks of beef, which are not unlike the tender chunks of Taiwanese niu rou miàn, except here, they're so sweet it's as though they were lacquered in caramel. The sugary bent of the braised meat bleeds into a broth poured on hot as though it was the moat of hell. This is a soup so scalding it overcooks the thin egg noodle. Below the liquid depths and strands of starch, you'll uncover even more of that tender beef in never-ending quantities along with shredded white-meat chicken and a few pork-stuffed wontons that prove this Filipino noodle soup, as with others on this list, is Chinese in origin but eminently customizable—the ultimate immigrant. 6901 La Palma Ave., Buena Park, (714) 521-0108.


This article appeared in print as "The Mein Event: Noodles, noodles everywhere: OC's finest, from spaghetti to ramen, from pho to spätzle!"

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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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