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Wife’s special noodles at Laoxi Noodle House in Arcadia
Wonho Frank Lee

10 of San Gabriel Valley’s Finest Noodle Bowls, Mapped

Slurp down the SGV’s finest noodles, from Shaanxi to Taiwanese

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Wife’s special noodles at Laoxi Noodle House in Arcadia
| Wonho Frank Lee

Los Angeles’s embarrassment of riches in diverse cultures can occasionally lead to the city feeling a bit like a culinary Tower of Babel. Particularly in the San Gabriel Valley, what with its intimidating signage usually primarily written in Chinese, uncovering the region’s wealth in Asian food and distinguishing between the various regional styles (and even countries) can seem daunting. To that effect, noodles are a starchy lingua franca, a common ingredient that can act as an introduction point to various different types of cuisine.

They’re also delicious entirely on their own, of course, in absentia of cultural context. From zhajiangmian to lamb noodle soups, to Thai-style boat noodles, it’s mind-boggling to consider the seemingly endless array of ingredient permutations alongside a simple starchy carbohydrate. Distilling the San Gabriel Valley’s offerings to a pittance of ten selections is probably a minor crime — so be sure to weigh in in the comments with anything missing. The bowls are presented from west to east, not in any ranked order.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Lamb Noodle Soup at Liang's Kitchen

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788 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 282-8238

Lamb-haters beware — the savory broth in the lamb noodle soup at Liang’s Kitchen has a robust, gamey finish that might turn off those disinclined to the polarizing meat. Those who are inclined, the reward is steep at Liang’s, where perfectly cooked, broad hand-pulled noodles and meltingly tender cuts of lamb combine in refreshing tribute to a Northern Chinese classic.

2. Hakka Noodles at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine

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19 S Garfield Ave
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 282-4477
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The quarters are cramped and the waits are long, but the house-made Indonesian-style curly noodles are a chewy, savory marvel, not unlike a slightly undercooked udon noodle. A little bit of broth is all it takes to get a healthy mix and slurp going. Savory toppings like fish cake, pork and egg are accentuated by a clean, onion-y broth to create a surprisingly light dish.

3. Thai Boat Noodles at Noodle World

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932 Huntington Dr
San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 300-1010
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At first glance, Noodle World’s jack-of-all-noodles schtick might seem like a safe play to the favorites, strictly utilitarian in its ability to quell lunch rushes from nearby businesses. And yes, their formula of juxtaposing spaghetti with pho is a winning proposition, if their multiple stateside locations are any indication. With that said, don’t scoff at their Thai food offerings — the kuaytiaw, or Thai boat noodles, in particular, arrive steaming and fragrant with the scent of star anise. Noodle World is uncompromising in their attention to the detail; tripe is julienned into bite-sized ribbons and pork blood is not in short supply in this authentic bowl of home cooked goodness that’s sure to make Thai natives wax nostalgic.

4. Chengdu Zajiang Noodles at Mian

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301 W Valley Blvd #114
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 693-6888
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Tony Xu’s Mian does many things right — the heinously addictive spicy wontons, or chaoshou, for one — but perhaps no single dish at the restaurant has been feted quite like the Chengdu zajiang noodles. Mian’s rendition is predictably spicy, packed with málà heat and crowned with a fried egg. Though just a tick more expensive than its competitors, the handmade noodles stand up well to the sauce and are worth every penny.

5. Zhajiangmian at Tian Jin Bistro

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534 E Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 288-9966

Parking at the mini-mall that contains Tian Jin Bistro (itself a barely-there hole-in-the-wall) can be harrowing on the weekends, but once inside, one is rewarded with one of the best zhajiangmians in town. Deep, nutty and sweet flavors of the fermented soybean sauce are unlocked further with bites of fresh julienned carrot and cucumber, and the firm bite of the handmade noodles are a nice finishing touch.

6. Biang Biang Mian at 百味陝西 Shaanxi Garden

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529 E Valley Blvd #178a
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 787-5555

According to the China Daily, biang biang mian were so named onomatopoetically for the noise they make when the pulled noodles are slapped on a table during preparation. Diners won’t hear the noise, but they might hear the dish ordered often at Shaanxi Garden. The savory, stir-fried noodles are balanced with grassy bean sprouts and an aromatic mirepoix of celery and carrot to create a flavor profile quite unlike any other noodle dish in town.

7. Dandanmien at Chong Qing Special Noodles

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708 E Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 374-1849
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Dandanmien in the SGV are too often given to the overwhelming taste of peanut butter, so as to render most of the accompanying spice toothless. Dan dan noodles get their fangs back at Chongqing Special Noodles, where the peanuts are reduced to a mere smattering and the spice and ground pork take on a more central role.

8. Taiwanese-Style Beef Noodle Soup at Corner Beef Noodle House

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3948 Peck Rd
El Monte, CA 91732
(626) 453-8865
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Beef noodle soup is seldom the belle of the ball in the Instagram feed (few noodle dishes truly are), but if there’s ever been a higher delicious-to-photogenic ratio in a single dish, one would be hard-pressed to find it. Corner Beef Noodle House’s niu rou mian, or Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup, takes melty beef tendon and marries it with a downright dreamy, clean broth to create one of the best noodle soup dishes in the city.

9. Wife’s Special at Laoxi Noodle House

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600 Live Oak Ave
Arcadia, CA 91006
(626) 348-2290

It is generally thought wise of married folks to listen to their wives, and it is certainly incumbent on the city of Los Angeles to listen to Laoxi Noodle House’s Wife’s Special. The seemingly odd mixture of zajiang black bean sauce, tomato-and-egg and roast pork seems odd, but it’s a nutty, unctuous, slightly acidic and altogether savory experience that oddly amounts to more than the sum of its parts.

laoxi noodle 3
Wife’s special at Lao Xi Noodle House
Wonho Frank Lee

10. Taiwanese-Style Zhajiangmian at Cindy's Kitchen

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16409 Colima Rd
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
(626) 961-0789

Cindy’s Kitchen’s Taiwanese-style zhajiangmian isn’t quite as nutty or sweet as its mainland/Korean-Chinese-style counterparts, but it’s helped along by savory pork flavor and little bits of tofu and balanced out by grassy bean sprouts and julienned cucumbers. The al dente noodles stand up well to the application and provide a nice chew.

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1. Lamb Noodle Soup at Liang's Kitchen

788 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

Lamb-haters beware — the savory broth in the lamb noodle soup at Liang’s Kitchen has a robust, gamey finish that might turn off those disinclined to the polarizing meat. Those who are inclined, the reward is steep at Liang’s, where perfectly cooked, broad hand-pulled noodles and meltingly tender cuts of lamb combine in refreshing tribute to a Northern Chinese classic.

788 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754

2. Hakka Noodles at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine

19 S Garfield Ave, Alhambra, CA 91801

The quarters are cramped and the waits are long, but the house-made Indonesian-style curly noodles are a chewy, savory marvel, not unlike a slightly undercooked udon noodle. A little bit of broth is all it takes to get a healthy mix and slurp going. Savory toppings like fish cake, pork and egg are accentuated by a clean, onion-y broth to create a surprisingly light dish.

19 S Garfield Ave
Alhambra, CA 91801

3. Thai Boat Noodles at Noodle World

932 Huntington Dr, San Marino, CA 91108

At first glance, Noodle World’s jack-of-all-noodles schtick might seem like a safe play to the favorites, strictly utilitarian in its ability to quell lunch rushes from nearby businesses. And yes, their formula of juxtaposing spaghetti with pho is a winning proposition, if their multiple stateside locations are any indication. With that said, don’t scoff at their Thai food offerings — the kuaytiaw, or Thai boat noodles, in particular, arrive steaming and fragrant with the scent of star anise. Noodle World is uncompromising in their attention to the detail; tripe is julienned into bite-sized ribbons and pork blood is not in short supply in this authentic bowl of home cooked goodness that’s sure to make Thai natives wax nostalgic.

932 Huntington Dr
San Marino, CA 91108

4. Chengdu Zajiang Noodles at Mian

301 W Valley Blvd #114, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Tony Xu’s Mian does many things right — the heinously addictive spicy wontons, or chaoshou, for one — but perhaps no single dish at the restaurant has been feted quite like the Chengdu zajiang noodles. Mian’s rendition is predictably spicy, packed with málà heat and crowned with a fried egg. Though just a tick more expensive than its competitors, the handmade noodles stand up well to the sauce and are worth every penny.

301 W Valley Blvd #114
San Gabriel, CA 91776

5. Zhajiangmian at Tian Jin Bistro

534 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Parking at the mini-mall that contains Tian Jin Bistro (itself a barely-there hole-in-the-wall) can be harrowing on the weekends, but once inside, one is rewarded with one of the best zhajiangmians in town. Deep, nutty and sweet flavors of the fermented soybean sauce are unlocked further with bites of fresh julienned carrot and cucumber, and the firm bite of the handmade noodles are a nice finishing touch.

534 E Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776

6. Biang Biang Mian at 百味陝西 Shaanxi Garden

529 E Valley Blvd #178a, San Gabriel, CA 91776

According to the China Daily, biang biang mian were so named onomatopoetically for the noise they make when the pulled noodles are slapped on a table during preparation. Diners won’t hear the noise, but they might hear the dish ordered often at Shaanxi Garden. The savory, stir-fried noodles are balanced with grassy bean sprouts and an aromatic mirepoix of celery and carrot to create a flavor profile quite unlike any other noodle dish in town.

529 E Valley Blvd #178a
San Gabriel, CA 91776

7. Dandanmien at Chong Qing Special Noodles

708 E Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Dandanmien in the SGV are too often given to the overwhelming taste of peanut butter, so as to render most of the accompanying spice toothless. Dan dan noodles get their fangs back at Chongqing Special Noodles, where the peanuts are reduced to a mere smattering and the spice and ground pork take on a more central role.

708 E Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776

8. Taiwanese-Style Beef Noodle Soup at Corner Beef Noodle House

3948 Peck Rd, El Monte, CA 91732

Beef noodle soup is seldom the belle of the ball in the Instagram feed (few noodle dishes truly are), but if there’s ever been a higher delicious-to-photogenic ratio in a single dish, one would be hard-pressed to find it. Corner Beef Noodle House’s niu rou mian, or Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup, takes melty beef tendon and marries it with a downright dreamy, clean broth to create one of the best noodle soup dishes in the city.

3948 Peck Rd
El Monte, CA 91732

9. Wife’s Special at Laoxi Noodle House

600 Live Oak Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006
laoxi noodle 3
Wife’s special at Lao Xi Noodle House
Wonho Frank Lee

It is generally thought wise of married folks to listen to their wives, and it is certainly incumbent on the city of Los Angeles to listen to Laoxi Noodle House’s Wife’s Special. The seemingly odd mixture of zajiang black bean sauce, tomato-and-egg and roast pork seems odd, but it’s a nutty, unctuous, slightly acidic and altogether savory experience that oddly amounts to more than the sum of its parts.

600 Live Oak Ave
Arcadia, CA 91006

10. Taiwanese-Style Zhajiangmian at Cindy's Kitchen

16409 Colima Rd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

Cindy’s Kitchen’s Taiwanese-style zhajiangmian isn’t quite as nutty or sweet as its mainland/Korean-Chinese-style counterparts, but it’s helped along by savory pork flavor and little bits of tofu and balanced out by grassy bean sprouts and julienned cucumbers. The al dente noodles stand up well to the application and provide a nice chew.

16409 Colima Rd
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

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