The Best Noodle Soups In Los Angeles
20 delicious bowls to get you through a blustery(ish) LA winter.
Noodles and soup are great on their own, but bring them together, and you have something greater than the sum of its parts—a savory, satisfying bowl with the combined soothing effects of a weighted blanket, a Melatonin sampler platter, and an Ina Garten voiceover. And now that the temperature has dipped all the way down into the 60s (sometimes even the 50s), you’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect food. From pho and udon to khao soi and laksa mee, here are some of our favorite noodle soups in LA.
Ayara Thai Cuisine
Dish: Khao Soi
Ayara Thai isn't just a neighborhood staple in Westchester, it's one of the best Thai restaurants in LA. They even sell their own Thai curry kits in case you want to make their family recipes at home. So it should come as no surprise that their signature khao soi is a must-order. The richly flavored broth is a blend of housemade curry paste, chili oil, and creamy coconut milk. That would be enough to make a solid khao soi, but Ayara fine-tunes the broth with palm sugar and fish sauce for an added punch of sweet-salty flavor. You'll also find two tender chicken drumsticks, spongy egg noodles, and crispy fried shallots swimming around in each huge bowl.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
Dish: House Special Braised Beef Noodles
The reason to make a bee-line to this little Shanghainese cafe in Alhambra is for their house special braised beef noodles. This is the kind of dish you eat on a Monday, dream about all week, and then have again on Friday, because your body can’t go any longer without it. The dark, cloudy broth is rich and spicy, and thin, chewy noodles soak up its intense flavors as you eat. Thick chunks of braised beef tie it all together—they're so moist and succulent that chewing is an optional activity.
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Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine
Dish: Laksa Mee
You can find us at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine any time the thermometer drops below 70 degrees. Actually, scratch that, we’re there regardless of what the thermometer reads. The expansive menu at this Indonesian/Singaporean restaurant in downtown Alhambra is stacked with tremendous dishes, but it’s the laksa mee that always has our attention. This Singaporean curry soup is filled with shrimp, fish cakes, fried tofu, and marinated egg, and topped with scallions and corn for a pop of sweetness.
Sapp Coffee Shop
Dish: Boat Noodle Soup
We don’t need to tell you about the boat noodle soup at Sapp, mainly because we’ve told you about it so many times already. (Seriously). This soup from our favorite Thai Town cafe is a remarkably complex bowl of noodles, with an endless list of ingredients combining for super-interesting combinations of flavors and textures: it’s funky, spicy, sour, and sweet, with tender slices of beef filet and firm rice noodles bathing in a cinnamon, galangal, and anise broth. Just before serving, it’s topped with crunchy bean sprouts and fried pork skin. If this soup’s not appealing to you, frankly, we don’t know why you’re reading this.
Dish: Matzo Ball Soup
There are plenty of worthy competitors for the crown, but our favorite bowl of matzo ball soup can be found at Brent’s Deli in Northridge. Why? It starts with the glistening chicken broth, simmered to perfection, and filled with carrots, shredded chicken, and silky smooth noodles. And in the middle of it all, a softball-sized chunk of matzo sitting royally like Dev Patel in The Green Knight. Do you see it? Has that image formed in your mind? No? Fine, just refer to the actual photo above then. That’s the last time we try to get creative in these captions, damn.
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Dish: Curry Udon
Daichan is a tiny spot in Studio City that specializes in the kind of comforting Japanese food that tastes absolutely incredible after a bad week–like Japanese-style fried chicken, cold soba, and gigantic tempura rice bowls. That said, our go-to order is the spicy curry udon. This massive bowl of soup comes filled with thick, chewy udon noodles and marinated chicken all in an umami-rich, yet slightly sweet broth that never fails to reach down into the darkest parts of our psyche and make us instantly feel better.
Dish: Beef Vermicelli Soup
Golden Leaf is a remarkable diner in a San Gabriel strip mall, with excellent ground pork chow mein and oyster pancakes. But our number-one draft pick here is the beef vermicelli soup, with heaping portions of green onion, suan cai (Chinese pickled cabbage), and spinach, in a marrow-rich broth. Golden Leaf also has their takeout game figured out, with everything individually packaged so nothing gets soggy on the drive home.
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Dish: Soba #1
Filled with chewy, house-made noodles, chashu pork, wontons that deserve to be their own entree, and a truffle-and-soy-based broth we’d drink out of a pint glass, the Soba #1 at Kazan is one of the most unique and memorable bowls of soba we’ve ever eaten. At $20, it’s certainly not the most affordable bowl of soup in town, but then again, it’s in Beverly Hills, so maybe it is. There’s a sign out front that reads “Pinnacle Of Noodle,” and we’re not going to disagree with that statement.
Northern Thai Food Club
Dish: Khao Soi
There are a handful of LA restaurants with incredible khao soi (Spicy BBQ, Pailin, and Sri Siam, just to name a few), but for us, Northern Thai Food Club takes the top spot. This tiny spot in Thai Town only opened in 2019, but has already catapulted itself to the upper reaches of LA’s Thai restaurants–and the khao soi is a huge reason why (another is the sai oua). Rich, creamy coconut milk broth with a giant chicken leg that’s so perfectly cooked the meat falls off with one brush of your fork–assuming you aren’t already gnawing at it with your mouth, that is.
Dish: Daikoku Ramen
Why settle for Top Ramen (no offense) when there are three Daikokuyas in the city? Located in Little Tokyo, West Hollywood, and on Sawtelle Blvd., this is where you go when you want to experience the mother of all LA ramen. There are a few variations on the menu, but we recommend keeping it classic with the Daikoku Ramen. It comes with a silky tonkotsu soup base and is topped with tender pork belly chashu, a marinated boiled egg, bamboo sprouts, green onions, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. This is the noodle soup equivalent of riding in a 1970 Corvette Stingray, or watching Gilda Radner in her prime.
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photo credit: Gardena Bowl
Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop
Whenever our space heater starts to fail us (does anyone else’s make the lights flicker?), we head to Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop. Located within an actual alley, this Hawaiian-style cafe serves an excellent saimin. It’s a ramen-like dish, a remnant from the state’s old sugar plantation days, made with a clear, dashi-based broth, and packed with wonton dumplings, sweet chashu, fish cake, and green onions. It’s the ultimate comfort dish, and if you’re like us, you’ll probably want to eat it by the gallon.
Dish: Bone Broth
Maybe it’s because it’s in a sleepy part of Pasadena, but people don’t talk about Bone Kettle nearly enough. This innovative Southeast Asian spot opened in 2017, and there’s a lot to love about their menu–Malaysian char kway teow (stir-fried noodles), Pinoy crispy pork belly sisig–but their eponymous bone broth soup is very special. To make it, they simmer beef, onions, garlic, and ginger for 36 hours to create a thick, aromatic stock that we’d drink by itself. They then load it with a protein of your choice (which should be the brisket or the oxtails) and tender wheat noodles. Don’t leave without an order of their fried oxtail tips, either.
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Myung Dong Kyoja
Myung Dong Kyoja in Koreatown has a number of tremendous soups on their menu (the cold soybean soup has saved us during countless heatwaves), but come wintertime, our heart only has eyes for their kalguksu. This traditional, chicken broth-based soup comes topped with ground chicken, pork dumplings, and vegetables, but what really makes it are the perfectly cooked knife-cut noodles floating inside. If you want some heat (which you do), be sure to order it spicy.
Dish: House Beef Noodles
Mian is a noodle shop from the chef behind Chengdu Taste, and that fact alone gets our attention. But more importantly, Mian lives up to expectations. The Chongqing-style noodles they serve are fantastic and chewy, with a spiciness that creeps up on you. We could point to numerous outstanding dishes on the menu here, but it’s the house beef noodle soup that remains the star of the show for us. Tender strips of beef submerged in a broth so spicy and flavorful, you’ll wonder if you can just order it as its own side. We haven’t asked yet, but honestly, it’s worth a shot. Order a plate of peppery pork dumplings to round out your meal.
Dish: Aush Reshteh
In Westwood’s Persian Square neighborhood (or Tehrangeles, as it’s often referred to), you can find this strained yogurt and noodle-based soup on the menu at most restaurants. Laziz Grill’s version is our favorite. Filled with lentils, chickpeas, fried onions, and chopped fresh herbs like mint, parsley, and dill, aush reshteh feels appropriate to eat no matter what the temperature is outside.
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photo credit: Jakob Layman
Dish: Slack Season Noodles
The Slack Season Noodles at Joy, the Taiwanese restaurant in Highland Park, packs a ton of comfort into a small bowl. The deep flavors don’t come from its toppings–a single, beautifully tender shrimp, some seasoned ground pork, and green onions–but from the soup’s clear base. The shrimp and chicken broth impart a subtle (but necessary) ocean flavor to the chewy wheat noodles. Add on some shrimp wontons in chili oil or a thousand-layer pancake while you’re here–both are great and balance the soup’s simplicity with some huge punches of flavor.
photo credit: Matt Gendal
Golden Deli Vietnamese Restaurant
Dish: Pho Tai Nam Gan
The pho at Golden Deli achieves an immaculate balance in its translucent broth, right at the intersection of fatty, sour, sweet, and (most definitely) salty. There’s an oily shimmer on top that lets you know you’re in for some excellent soup, and while the noodles are sometimes a bit gummy, the beef brisket, ribeye, and tendon are tender and extremely flavorful, and more than make up for the soft noodles. Make sure to use the sliced lime and housemade chili sauce on the side to deepen the flavors.
Phnom Penh Noodle Shack
Dish: Phnom Penh Noodles
Phnom Penh is one of the best Cambodian restaurants in Long Beach, and frankly, one of our favorite spots in the whole city, period. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 7am-3pm, this tiny place specializes mostly in breakfast comfort dishes like rice porridge and meat pies, but it’s their house special noodle soup with pork bone broth that we’ll brave even the foggiest of mornings to eat. You can choose between rice or egg noodles, but we actually prefer doing a mix of both.
Dish: Uni Sea Urchin Cream Udon
Before the pandemic, Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo had a perpetual line, both for the food and the performance–you’d watch noodle makers inside a glass-walled room throwing and cutting udon like they were on stage. But Marugame is just as great for takeout, even without the show. The fat, dense noodles are excellent in many forms, but for something a bit different, go for the udon in uni cream sauce, which is flecked with incredible bits of Santa Barbara urchin tongue. For a more standard noodle soup, try the Hot Dragon Udon with a light, spicy tonkotsu broth and excellent spiced ground pork.
Dish: Xi Quach Duoi Bo
You could spend an entire month trying every pho spot in Little Saigon and most of them would be pretty damn delicious. But if you’re short on time and simply looking for the best, go to Pho 79. The landmark Vietnamese restaurant in Garden Grove, open since 1982, is one of the most well-known restaurants in all of Orange County, and even during a pandemic, still has takeout lines to prove it. You can add a variety of different meats to your soup (the oxtail is their signature), but it’s really all about the broth. Simmered with oxtail for 12 hours and infused with star anise, it’s rich, cinnamon-y, and unlike any other pho you’ll find in California. Cash only.