SFGuide

The Best Noodle Soups In SF

From ramen and khao soi to steaming bowls of phở, these are the best noodle soups in SF.
The seolleong tang at Daeho

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Noodles and soup are great on their own, but combine the two and there's truly nothing better. These bowls of ramen, khao soi, phở, and other noodle soups are as soothing as a crackling fireplace, or Morgan Freeman doing ASMR. While this guide doesn’t cover every single noodle soup in the city, it’s the place to start the next time big weather things are happening, or when the temperature hits a cool Bay Area 55 degrees.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Brit Finnegan

Japanese

Tenderloin

$$$$Perfect For:Dining SoloCasual Weeknight Dinner
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Soup: Tori Paitan Ramen

Yes, we know, there’s always a wait to get into this Tenderloin ramen spot. But standing in line for ramen this next-level is worth it. The classic tori paitan is iconic. The noodles are thick and the right amount of chewy. Melty chashu is umami-rich, and the fried burdock root topping adds crunch. This is an A+ bowl of noodle soup and everyone in line knows it.  

Soup: Seolleong Tang

You don’t need us to tell you that the crowds waiting outside of Daeho in Japantown are here for cheesy kalbijjim—the dish is a local celebrity, on par with Stephen Curry. But their seolleong tang is just as deserving of stardom. The milky ox bone soup comes with a tangle of slippery glass noodles and your protein of choice, from brisket and oxtail to spicy beef. Deeply flavorful broth brings you one step closer to full-blown enlightenment. Don’t question how. Just go.  

Soup: BBQ Pork Wun Tun Noodle Soup

If it wasn’t obvious from the name, this casual Chinatown spot specializes in wontons. Specifically, wontons in noodle soup, and damn, they do them well. The menu looks long at first glance, but you’ll quickly realize that the soups are mostly just slightly different combinations of these excellent shrimp and pork wontons, a rich broth, and meat. We recommend the BBQ pork—it’s thinly sliced, slightly sweet, and juicy. It’s the perfect companion for these wonderful wontons and noodles.

Soup: Braised Duck Leg With Won Ton Egg Noodle Soup

At this Outer Sunset spot, noodle soups are basically the only thing on the menu, aside from sides like fish cakes and extra crispy egg rolls. The soup that reigns supreme is the one topped with a whole braised duck leg that slides off the bone with ease. It comes with squiggly egg noodles (get the thick ones) and plump wontons, plus a side of pickles that cut through the richness of the bowl. This place gets crowded around lunch, but tables turn fast, and you’ll be downing soup in no time. 

Soup: Braised Beef Noodles

The namesake mini potstickers at this Sunset restaurant get most of the love, but the low-key spot also knows their way around an excellent noodle soup. The braised beef soup features perfectly chewy noodles and a rich, dark brown broth you’ll polish right off. It’s also loaded up with fork-tender hunks of beef, bok choy, and a heap of fresh cilantro. Round things out with some boiled dumplings and the pan-fried minis, and you’re all set.

Soup: Tan Tan Noodles

This always-packed Chinatown noodle house offers regional Chinese specialties galore. On days when you really want to stay under the covers, it’s tan tan noodles all the way. The broth is nutty and rich. There’s an overabundance of wheat noodles. And the soup leaves a tingly, numbing sensation in your mouth that somehow doesn’t overpower.

photo credit: Brit Finnegan

Soup: The Curry

While everything at Katsuo + Kombu is worth a detour, we would push someone out of the way to get the last of the curry udon. It’s maximalist udon at its best with wagyu beef combined with a showstopping broth, chewy noodles, a giant mound of vegetables, and a custardy egg. It’s so good you’ll immediately start planning your return visit. But be forewarned, this cozy noodle shop on Divisadero is prone to running out. So make sure that follow-up visit is an early dinner.

Soup: Hakata Tonkotsu

This Japantown spot needs no introduction, but we’ll give one anyway—Marufuku’s tonkotsu ramen is worth the hours-long wait it draws every night. We’d drink their intensely porky broth by the liter. And you should, too. Hop in line to get your hands on the Hakata Tonkotsu. It’s loaded with melt-in-your-mouth char siu and is the centerpiece of every table. 

Soup: Bún Riêu

You’re probably at this Vietnamese spot with your phở blinders on, and while this casual place does a great rendition of their titular noodle soup, you shouldn’t overlook their bún riêu. The bright red soup, served in a bowl the size of a tank, is packed with crab and pork balls that break into tiny, juicy pieces with a single chopstick poke. They come in small or large, but you’ll want large. 

Soup: Spicy Curry Chicken Vermicelli Soup

Not to be confused with PPQ Dungeness Island on Clement, this small Vietnamese spot in the Outer Sunset makes vermicelli bowls, rice plates, and garlic noodles. Hone in on the curry chicken vermicelli soup (#8). As much as we love noodles, we’re here for the aromatic broth it goes in. It’s slightly sweet and a tad creamy, and the spice leaves a warming sensation on your lips. The soft chicken and big pile of rice noodles are an added benefit though.

Soup: Tokusei Tsukemen

Dip ramen is the specialty at this swanky Japanese spot in the Mission—thick noodles are served in a broth with the consistency of gravy. Do everything in your power, short of running here in flip flops, to get a bowl—the soup has so much flavor that your brain will need a few seconds to comprehend its seismic power. When you’re done wolfing down the noodles, someone will pour dashi into the leftover soup so you can enjoy every last bit right out of the bowl. 

Soup: Kao Soy

This little Thai restaurant in the Richmond nails every element of a kao soy. Their rendition has zing from a squeeze of lemon, bouncy egg noodles, and a creamy yellow curry broth that’ll stick in your mind for weeks. You’ll have regrets about not ordering more even before you get to your last drop—all the more reason to return next time your heater decides to blow a fuse.  

Soup: Hamaguri Ramen

You’ll encounter great ramen bowls at Marufuku, Mensho, and the other top ramen spots across town. Hinodeya is one of the few that offers hamaguri ramen—and for that we are grateful. It’s garlicky, comes with dashi broth, and is piled high with littleneck clams that give the dish some brininess. There are three Hinodeya locations across town, but we love the Japantown original that’s always bustling with soup-devouring groups.

Soup: Ong No Kaw Soi

Our favorite Burmese rendition of khao soi is at Mandalay in the Richmond. The coconutty chicken noodle soup, with a hard-boiled egg that absorbs all the broth and an AeroGarden’s worth of herbs sprinkled on top, will be sucked up like a vacuum by everyone at the table in record time. The soup is one of the best dishes on the menu at this bright spot and the liquid embodiment of self-care.

Soup: Phở Đặc Biệt

Kevin’s is a Sunset institution for noodles and soup, full stop. If you need more proof, look to the perpetually packed dining room and crowds waiting on the sidewalk each night. The casual Vietnamese restaurant runs a tight operation—before you even have time to glance at the menu, someone will appear to take your order. Go with the phở dặc biệt. It’s a classic you’ll see at most phở spots, and this version is generously packed with tripe, tendon, flank, brisket, and thin-sliced steak. 

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Suggested Reading

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The Best Ramen In San Francisco

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Where to go when you really want dumplings.

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