5. Pho Duy
925 South Federal Boulevard
Pho Duy has been a favorite for years, and its new location (right next to the old one at Federal Boulevard and Kentucky Avenue) keeps the hits coming in a bigger, more modern space. All of the usual suspects are there: rare steak, brisket, tendon, tripe and flank. But you'll also find less common treats like marinated rare steak, shrimp, Vietnamese meat roll (like ultra-dense meatloaf) and a vegetarian bowl that's worth a trip on its own.
What to order: We'll know you're a pho monster if you order the monster-sized large bowl. A medium is more than enough to get us sweaty and stuffed. And ditch your trepidation at the door: This is the place to finally try tendon and tripe.
4. Pho Le
1195 South Federal Boulevard
If Duy is tops for pho, Pho Le is where to go when you're ready to explore the remainder of Vietnam's vast noodle offerings. Egg noodles, vermicelli, banh tam bi as thick as chopsticks and other rare wonders await those willing to stray from Le's admittedly delicious pho mainstays.
What to order: If you're feeling adventurous, get a bowl of hu tieu mi nam vang: two kinds of noodles beneath a heady broth bobbing with quail eggs, shrimp, thin slabs of pork heart and riblets. The condiment dish alone is worth the price, just to see the variety of traditional greens beyond pho's standard basil and cilantro.
2907 Huron Street
Pull up a stool at chef-owner Miki Hashimoto's hidden sushi and ramen bar in the Prospect neighborhood (that's in the western shadow of Coors Field, in case you're curious) and peruse the noodle menu — you'll have twelve bowls from which to choose, all writhing with ramen, udon or rice (which are really just really short noodles, right?). Start with something from the bincyo-tan list first, though, for some charcoal-grilled skewers — a rarity in Denver restaurants.
What to order: If you're looking to skip the meat, try Tokio's unique "ramen air" broth, made with pureed sweet potatoes, pumpkin, soy milk and miso.
2215 West 32nd Avenue
A seat at Uncle during prime weekend hours is still like finding Willie Wonka's golden ticket, even after more than three years of feeding ravenous ramenites. But go early (in the day and the week) for wet or dry noodle offerings packed with flavor and originality.
What to order: Everything, from original recipes featuring duck and apple or kimchi and shredded pork, to traditional hits like shoyu with chashu or spicy chicken. Just be sure to ask for an umami bomb — a thick spoonful of either caramelized miso pork or spicy seven pepper.
1. Uncle Joe's Hong Kong Bistro
891 14th Street
Uncle Joe's noodle slate may be small, but what's there is worth a foray into the bustling heart of downtown. Recipes come from China's island city and feature layered flavors of hard-to-come-by sauces and wok hai — that special something added by a searing-hot and well-seasoned pan. Grab a seat at the bar for some clever cocktails and a plate of something far from standard, overly sweetened takeout fare.
What to order: Uncle Joe's was founded in Hong Kong (ours is only the second in the world), and the Law family (which owns both) brings back dried scallops to make its own XO sauce in-house — which is then added to a shrimp-and-scallop dish with tight coils of noodles called "rice pillows." Try it and thank us later.