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NYC

Review

David A. Lee

Native Noodles

Written by
David A. Lee

Referring to someone or a group of people as “the 1%” is typically considered negative, invoking thoughts of unnecessary space travel and iguana steaks at Illuminati-esque parties. But when a new counter-service place like Native Noodles in Washington Heights opens up, it deserves its own special tier. Meet the 1% of NYC counter-service restaurants: Zooba, Teranga, Fat Choy, and now, Native Noodles.

This small Singaporean place started out at the Queens Night Market before opening on Amsterdam Avenue in early 2021, and it still serves the same great Southeast Asian food that can be especially hard to find in Upper Manhattan.

David A. Lee

While it started off as takeout only, Native Noodles has expanded with a few tables both inside and out where you can take your time exploring dishes like crispy crab buns and chili crab pasta. Both dishes pack in an inordinate amount of shellfish, to the extent that you might worry about the shellfish feds coming after you for unrealized crustacean gains. No need to worry about that completely made-up investment term. Just order this appetizer-entree combo, and you can enjoy a filling meal with these two items alone.

David A. Lee

But then you’d miss out on the spicy, creamy laksa with tofu puffs and the tender honey-roasted pork that you should add to any rice or noodle bowl (either at Native Noodles or at home when making weekly stir-fries). The roti john, popularized by Singaporean hawkers in the 1970s, is another must-order. It’s sort of like Singapore’s version of a chopped cheese crossed with a breakfast sandwich, and the one at Native Noodles comes with a sweet, spicy chili ketchup.

David A. Lee

In the future, we can only hope that there’s a Native Noodles near our office or close to any apartment we move into. It may belong in the upper echelon of counter-service spots in NYC, but don’t let that intimidate you. This is an elite option for a casual weeknight dinner. Everything on the menu is under $15, and you’ll experience riches in the form of excessively-stuffed bowls of crab.

Food Rundown

David A. Lee
Chili Crab Buns

Four crispy buns that come with a chili crab dipping sauce. Native Noodles is not afraid to pack every dish that includes crab with… a lot of crab. This is no exception. The contrast between crispy textures, hot buns, and cold sweet chili crab makes this a go-to appetizer.

David A. Lee
Laksa Noodles

This spicy and savory laksa packs a ton of dried shrimp flavor that pairs well with its wide rice noodles. The huge puffy chunks of tofu also soak up the sauce nicely, and, even if you double up on protein, this bowl will still cost under $15. Add shrimp, honey-roasted pork, or both.

David A. Lee
Singapore Noodles

Speaking of honey-roasted pork, that’s exactly what you should order with these super-thin noodles. There’s a lot of turmeric flavor and color in this dish, not to mention the shredded egg and various vegetables.

David A. Lee
Roti John Sandwich

This popular Singaporean egg crepe sandwich would make for a great late breakfast. The egg and cheese meld into one unit, and you shouldn’t hesitate to add the sweet and spicy chili ketchup. Just know that this is a hefty sandwich and, with so many other dishes worth exploring, it isn’t necessarily what we’d order for dinner. But if you’re somebody who makes six-egg omelettes on weeknights, you’re gonna like the roti john.

David A. Lee
Chili Crab Pasta

This pasta has, on occasion, been a little overcooked—but the sheer amount of crab, garlic, and chili crab sauce make this one of our favorite entrees. It’s the most expensive dish on the menu at $14, but if you like crab, it’s a must-order.

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