Noodles to Savor
by Tammy Sproule Kaplan,
Woodbury, MN October, 2011
These crave-worthy Asian-inspired comforts are deliciously simple.
Noodles have a universal appeal that is nearly unmatched. Not only are they good for filling you up on cold days, but they're affordable and versatile, too. They effortlessly take on the flavor of whatever they're being tossed into, making them a friend to chefs in all parts of the globe. Here are several Asian-style variations that will have you slurping until the bowl or plate is clean.
VIETNAMESE CHICKEN CHOW MEIN
Duc's Vietnamese and Chinese
Duc Kim is celebrating his Woodbury restaurant's second year in business, and since it's been around, local diners have benefited from a refreshing mix of Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, including stir-fried noodles, noodle soup and noodle salads. One of the customer favorites is the Vietnamese chicken chow mein ($10.75), made with stir-fried chicken and vegetables, served atop crispy egg noodles that soak up the sauce (also can also be ordered with shrimp, pork, beef or a combo). Since he has noticed that his clientele is looking for a little bit healthier fare, Kim has made a point of loading up the vegetables in his dishes, though he says the familiar ones, like broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and onions, go over much better than Chinese ones. When the season turns to winter, that's when the noodle soups hit the peak of their demand, like his pho ($8.75), served in a seasoned, home-cooked broth with rice stick noodles and beef or meat balls.
783 Radio Dr.; 651.735.1044; ducsrestaurants.com
Noodles & Company
Talk about complexity--the sweet but slightly spicy coconut curry sauce in the Bangkok curry ($4.25/small or $5.35/regular)at Noodles & Company is made with more than 30 authentic ingredients, many of which are imported directly from Thailand. It's loaded with twice the vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, red peppers, onions and mushrooms, and a light portion of rice noodles, a balance that; at 480 calories, makes it a sensible option, too. The veggies and sauce are served over a bed of cabbage with black sesame. Another popular noodle dish is the Indonesian peanut sauté ($4.25/small or $5.35/regular), a spicy peanut sauce and rice noodle stir-fry with carrots, broccoli, cabbage, Asian sprouts, cilantro, crushed peanuts and lime. Not shy in the spice department, this is the way to go if you're looking for something to ignite your taste buds. As a garnish, the cilantro, crushed peanuts and lime really bring the dish together.
7445 Currell Blvd; 651.738.2222; noodles.com
JAPANESE CHILE RAMEM
You might only think of ramen as served with broth, but "ramem" actually refers to the thin, quick-cooking noodle, which may or may not be served in a soup. At Pei Wei, the Japanese chile ramen ($7.50) is stir-fried with a soy mirin chile sauce, scallions, garlic, bean sprouts, onion, lime cilantro, chile peppers and noodles. Recommended with the steak, it can be ordered with chicken, shrimp, vegetables or tofu, too. The dish is savory and spicy, and you can add more heat by stirring in the Fresno chile slice; bean sprouts add a crunchy contrast to the noodle texture. Another dish to try at Pei Wei is the dan dan noodles ($7.50) in a chili-seared soy sauce, with minced chicken, scallions, garlic, bean sprouts, cucumber and egg noodles (can also be ordered with chicken, beef, shrimp, vegetables or tofu). This Chinese dish offers a simple, balanced flavor with spice from the chili sauce, cooling from the cucumber and savory notes from the egg noodles. The pad Thai ($7.50) is another zesty noodle dish, with Thai sweet-and-sour sauce, tofu, bean sprouts, scallions, egg, crushed peanuts, lime cilantro and rice noodles, offering sweet, sour and spicy notes.
8300 Tamarack Village; 651.286.3990; peiwei.com
THANH TRUC SPICY NOODLES
At Thanh Truc, they'll prepare the Thanh Truc spicy noodles ($9), made with flat rice noodles, as spicy as you want. The sauce is made using tamarind, so it's part sweet, part sour and part salty, resulting is a perfect balance. Order it with chicken, pork, tofu, beef or seafood. Hoa Bui, who owns the restaurant with her husband Hai Phan, says the Vietnamese pho, made with beef broth from a family recipe, is also a best-seller, along with the pad Thai, which she created from the recipe of her best friend, who is Thai.
2230 Eagle Creek Ln.; 651.436.3431; thanhtrucrestaurant.com
The Asian noodles at Leeann chin are thin like a lo mein noodle, stir-fried with cabbage, carrots and onion in a light soy sauce. They are vegetarian and can be a substitution for white rice with any dish for an additional charge. They can also be ordered as a side ($2.99), by the pint ($3.99) or quart ($5.99). Order something like the beef and broccoli with noodles, and voila, you've created your very own beef lo mein.
9955 Hudson Pl.; 651.702.5404; leeannchin.com //