The Best Untraditional Asian Noodle Dishes in Los Angeles

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Kimchi and bacon pasta with cream sauce at Yellow House Café | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Noodle awareness is at an all-time high in L.A. People can now debate the relative merits of different styles of ramen, pho, Chinese and Thai noodle soups. Of course, not every plate or bowl falls into easy categorization. Local chefs (not all of them Asian) are creating noodle dishes that incorporate untraditional ingredients or take on new forms. Discover 10 of L.A.’s most compelling untraditional Asian noodle dishes.

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Bazole at Bäco Mercat | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Bäco Mercat



Josef Centeno is an empire builder who runs five unique concepts within a one-block radius in Downtown L.A.’s Old Bank District. Based on The Bäco Shop’s recent launch in Culver City, the San Antonio native may just be getting started. At Bäco Mercat, Centeno's first restaurant, the bazole is a flavorful pozole-ramen mash-up that bolsters a fiery pork-chile broth with pork & beef carnitas, mushrooms, fried egg, and cache of noodles.

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California Udon at Kochi | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Kochi



Yuki Hokada hails from Fukuoka, Japan, and opened Kochi near the Beverly Center in fall 2016. The space features a black awning, small patio, and cherry blossom tree mural inside. Kochi is named for a famous Japanese poem that describes winds arriving from the east, signaling spring. The menu features traditional udon preparations along with signature udon bowls. California Udon riffs on the California Roll - a base of bouncy udon noodles supports yellow bell pepper, tomato, avocado, mixed greens, shaved radish, purple cabbage, and a central thatch of creamy “krab” salad. Each order comes with a pitcher of kochi sauce, a mix of soy sauce, ginger, and scallions. Toss and eat.

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Udon gratin at Marugame Monzo | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Marugame Monzo



Marugame Monzo, one of L.A.’s most ambitious noodle practitioners, makes springy udon noodles behind glass in Little Tokyo. The show transitions from an exhibition kitchen to the plate, where you’ll find progressive preparations like udon gratin. A pan of udon noodles swimming in cream sauce, onion, and Parmesan is baked until golden and gooey, is dusted with dried oregano and served sizzling on a cork mat. The key protein is chicken, but we suggest paying an extra $1 to upgrade to sweet shrimp and bay scallops.

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Satoimo agedashi at Necco | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Necco



This Japanese restaurant from chef Kenji Koyama in Westwood features a name that translates from Japanese as “roots” and spotlights root vegetables on their menu. Dinner-only satoimo agedashi features slightly chewy, deep-fried taro cakes studded with shiitake mushrooms and edamame. They’re topped with mashed daikon and submerged in in savory shojin dashi broth that’s swimming with earthy green tea soba noodles.

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Fried pho at Pho Saigon Pearl | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Pho Saigon Pearl Los Angeles



Siblings An, Phuong and Nathan replaced Four Cafe across from Park La Brea in 2016. Their Vietnamese café features a mural of a Saigon street scene, framed family photos on the walls, and Phuong’s husband Bernard Hoang in the kitchen. Pho Saigon Pearl features a balanced menu that somehow doesn’t have room for fried pho, aka bird’s nest (hu tieu xao dion). A deep-fried rice noodle nest comes with a choice of beef or veggie gravy. Shrimp, pork, chicken, or beef is your only other decision. Regardless, expect a cornucopia of sliced carrots, baby corn, broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms and onion strands. My server said, “There’s really no right way of eating it. Cut it like a steak and dig in.” Dress with Sriracha and hoisin if you prefer to dial up the spice and umami.

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OG Ramen at Ramen Hood | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Ramen Hood



A neon green arrow leads you to the long grey counter with black metal stools at Ramen Hood, a vegan ramen bar at Grand Central Market from Ilan Hall and resident chef Rahul Khopkar. OG Ramen features a milky and nutty sunflower seed broth, nori strands, King oyster mushrooms, chile threads, bok choy, bean sprouts, sesame seeds and scallions. Alternatives include spicy ramen and “cold smokey” ramen with smoked onion broth and buckwheat noodles. In all cases, you can add a vegan “egg” featuring soymilk and sea salt “whites” solidified with agar and yolks touting spherified nutritional yeast, carotene, black salt, and vitamin B. The “egg” comes dressed with a line of shichimi togarashi and touts texture that isn’t as firm as a normal egg and may fall apart in your chopsticks.

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Wagyu ramen burger at Tatsu Ramen | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Tatsu Ramen - Melrose



Ramen Burger creator Keizo Shimamoto closed up shop in Koreatown, but Tatsu Ramen still serves ramen burgers at their Melrose location. The modern space features a bamboo-lined patio, L-shaped bar overlooking open kitchen, high-top communal tables, and stylish ridged ceiling. Wagyu ramen burger stars a coarse, medium-rare beef patty topped with crushed soft-boiled eggs, green onions, “secret” teriyaki-like burger sauce, and mayo. The bun: two slightly crispy noodle patties studded with black sesame seeds.

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Kimchi and bacon pasta with cream sauce at Yellow House Café | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Yellow House Café



TJ Park has operated Yellow House Café, a side street Koreatown café, for about a decade. You’ll find yellow walls inside and out, a big wood-fenced back patio with shaded seating, potted plants and fireplaces. They have cartoons on walls and a gift shop by the restrooms. Korean soft rock is the soundtrack. Kimchi and bacon pasta with cream sauce features spicy linguine topped with dried parsley, Parmesan and chile flakes, served with garlic bread and a dish of tangy pickled vegetables (onion, cukes, and carrot). Cafe Nandarang also serves kimchi pasta nearby in K-Town, but bacon is the clear tiebreaker.