Noodle bars, noodle houses, noodle joints: Call them what you will — as long as you call them addictive and delicious. Most also offer a selection of small plates, soups and stir-fries, but the noodles are always the main attraction — a bouncy nest of ramen, a tangle of rice noodles submerged in pho broth, a heaping plate of pad Thai. Here are our ten favorite Asian noodle houses in Denver, in alphabetical order. Slurp on!
701 Grant Street
Restaurateur Frank Bonanno was early to the Denver noodle game, adding Bones to his Governor's Park arsenal right between Luca and Mizuna in 2008. Choose from soba, udon or ramen dressed in traditional garb or outfitted outlandishly in carbonara or pork green chile.
What to order: Ditch notions of authenticity and dive into that carbonara, with pork belly and a poached egg swimming in a Parmesan black-truffle broth that will have you tipping the bowl to your lips to down every last drop.
42 South Broadway
Chef Lon Symensma's one-room tour of Southeast Asia is a noodle bar and more. While maybe half of the entrees at any given time (the menu changes regularly) are noodle-based, what's there is always shirt-spatteringly good. Whether you're in for Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian or otherwise, you'll always find the true flavors of those countries, occasionally with fun and modern touches.
What to order: The northern Thai coconut curry has been on the roster since day one. Simultaneously rich, bright, creamy and crunchy, this is a customizable tribute to khao soi, served in a split-level lunch pail with fried noodles on top and zippy broth beneath.
8. J's Noodles Star Thai
945 South Federal Boulevard
The rice is nice at this South Federal stalwart, but if you're in the mood for a noodle or two, this is your west-side stop. Start with a salad of slippery bean-thread noodles with a bracing lime-and-mint dressing before moving on to heartier fare like a beefy drunken-noodle plate or soy-slathered pad see ew.
What to order: You're in a Thai joint in Denver, so you must be craving pad Thai — and you're in luck, because J's has a double feature. Stick with the standard or opt for the country-style pad Thai for a warming dose of tamarind and fish sauce.
7. Katsu Ramen
1930 South Havana Street
Aurora's Katsu Ramen was an instant hit from the get-go when it opened a year ago, with lines out the door for lunch and dinner. Things have simmered down a little since then, but the bubbling pots of ramen broth — six styles, to be exact — still draw faithful fans. From light shoyu to angry-orange tantanmen to rare hiyashi chuka (chilled ramen), there's something for every mood.
What to order: Katsu's rice and ramen combo starts you out with a trio of dumplings before plunking down two full bowls at your table. Our love of pork draws us to the cream-thick tonkotsu ramen, sided with a chashu bowl of braised pork. We know, it's pure piggy excess — but we like to leave waddling.
6. Osaka Ramen
2817 East Third Avenue, 303-524-9229
2611 Walnut Street, 303-955-7938
More ramen, you ask? The golden Japanese treasure might just be the emperor of all noodles. When done right, the perfect spring and chew of the ramen combined with swirling, salty broth and thin-cut meats can't be beat. And chef Jeff Osaka, who went from zero ramen bars to two last year, does it right, whether your preference is a delicate chicken broth or a surprisingly power-packed vegetarian bowl based on Thai green coconut curry.
What to order: Choose from five ramen styles and slurp until you hit the bottom of the bowl, but just remember that a plate of My Wife's Donuts — little, deep-fried pillows hiding spheres of chewy mochi within — awaits. These can't be skipped, no matter how full you think you are.
Keep reading for more of the best noodle houses in Denver...