Feast: 6 noodle-icious dishes

Photo by Brandon Joseph Baker

I'm a guy who knows a little something about noodles. How could I not, living in San Francisco? From the steamy rice-stick pho of the Tenderloin to the hand-pulled ramen of Japantown (RIP, Mr. Noodle), the Outer Richmond's squiggly fried delights, and the sauce-smothered delicacies of North Beach, the city's awash in traditional noodley goodness. As winter's rain approaches, folks like me start scouring the town for fortifying — and unexpected — pasta gems. We're Marco Polos on a mouthwatering mission, searching high and low for pressed dough.


A robust bowl of Vietnamese yum, served at the unassuming Hai Ky Mi Gia in the Tenderloin, this dish ($6.45) is basically an Asian mulligatawny, containing shredded chicken and pork, fish balls, delectable wontons, and strips of Spamlike pressed meat served over a bed of thick or thin egg noodles and doused with one of the most delicious chicken-based broths I've ever had the pleasure of slurping down. (Yes, I tipped the bowl.) Also available in an equally slurpable vit tìm version ($6.95), with a whole braised duck leg tossed into the bowl. Difficult to navigate with chopsticks but, I'm proud to tell you, entirely possible.

707 Ellis, SF. (415) 771-2577


Mi dio, mi dio! Served at brand spanking new Italian stunner Farina Focaccia and Cuccina Italiano in the Mission, this is handkerchief pasta smothered in pesto ($15). What is handkerchief pasta? It's basically one giant noodle — uncut, unedited, and layered gently on the plate. But to pasta lovers like me, it's a dream pillow. The light, garlicky pesto laces each tender bite with a kick of heavenly spice. When it's accompanied by Farina's justly famous cappon magro vecchia Genova ($15) — chilled salad with halibut, lobster, mussels, shrimp, cauliflower, carrot, green bean, potato, beet, and boiled eggs — you'll float off contentedly into the night.

3560 18th St., SF. (415) 565-0360


This one's only for the truly hardy among us, but incredibly rewarding. Order this at Zazang Korean Noodle in the Western Addition and you'll be served a bowl of curly yellow flour-based noodles, a side dish of pickled vegetables, raw onions, and gooey duck sauce, and another bowl — the main event — of black bean pasta sauce so dark it almost swallows the high-beam fluorescent light buzzing about the place. The sauce contains calamari, mussels, shrimp, and chunks of fish — and once the squid ink settles in with the black beans, the sauce evokes the flavor and texture of dark chocolate fudge. Mix it with the noodles, swallow a few mouthfuls, and you may never want to leave. Also of interest is the goo choo jap chae ($12.95) — clear yam noodles, stir-fried with bell pepper, onion, and juicy beef. Fair warning: each order is enough to stuff four.

2340 Geary, SF. (415) 447-0655, www.zazangworld.com


Purists will object, protesting that spaetzle reside more in the dumpling wing of the house of pasta, but, hey, I'm a rebel, and in German cuisine these doughy tidbits, or "little sparrows," serve much the same function as noodles. This dish ($18.50), from Suppenküche in Hayes Valley, is a heaping plateful of hearty venison medallions in a thick red wine and plum sauce, accompanied by a pile of savory red cabbage salad and a big scoop of buttery Knöpfle, or button spaetzle.

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