Few foods in this world are more well-traveled or universally beloved than noodles. There is such a simple, childlike pleasure in slurping up a bowl of chewy (mmm… gluten), cooked-to-perfection strands of rice noodles, wheat noodles or egg-enriched pasta. (Lest we forget, pasta is simply what happened when noodles traveled from east to west along the Silk Road, ending up in Italy.) It’s a delight that transcends borders, cultures and aversion to carbs.
The classic Chinese Dan Dan Noodles pop up on two different menus in two vastly divergent incarnations. Mumu Cuisine serves a more typical Sichuan version of spicy, soupy meat sauce over noodles, while north takes the dish in an entirely different direction: noodles are swapped out for chewy rice cakes, mutton and squid take the place of ground pork, and fermented chili is added to the traditionally chili oil based sauce. Mumu Cuisine: 220 Atwells Ave. 369-7040. north: 3 Luongo Sq. 421-1100.
Ken’s Ramen makes noodle slurping a more fun and active experience with its Tsukemen Ramen, AKA “the dipping ramen.” Thick, wavy noodles are served plain in a bowl and subsequently dipped in a bonito-laced broth, instantly reminding you how wrong you had been doing ramen in college. Meanwhile, Garden Grille allows vegans to get in on America’s seemingly insatiable appetite for pad Thai with its Raw Peanut Pad Thai, featuring vegetable-based noodles in a spicy peanut sauce. Den Den Café Asiana also forgoes flour in favor of veggies with its Jap Chae, a Korean sweet potato noodle stir fried with sesame oil, vegetables and a choice of protein. Ken’s Ramen: 69 Washington St. Garden Grille: 727 East Ave., Pawtucket. 726-2826. Den Den Café Asiana: 161 Benefit St. 270-5269.
Ebisu brings Italian pasta back east with its Soba Gnocchi, a twist on the dumpling-like pasta featuring asparagus, king oyster and button mushrooms, white cream sauce and a choice of chicken or seafood. Al Forno, instead, heads west with its New World Pappardelle, made with tomato, corn, cilantro and habanero. Rosalina also incorporates a bit of the New World into its Old World recipes by adding green chilies to its Squid Ink Spaghetti with crab meat, garlic, fresh parsley, white wine and olive oil. Completing the crossover, Public Kitchen & Bar adopts Asian noodles as American bar food with its Spicy Thai Noodles: panang red curry, cashews and coconut milk served over rice noodles. Ebisu: 38 Pontiac Ave. 270-7500. Al Forno: 577 South Main St. 273-9670. Rosalina: 50 Aborn St. 270-7330. Public Kitchen & Bar: 120 Francis St. 919-5050.