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Food Critics: The Best Noodles In Kansas City In 2018

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Noodles are having a moment Kansas City.

“There’s an awful lot of chefs in the city right now with small pasta menus within their main menu,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “It’s because they’re making it in-house and they’re very proud of it.”

Vergara, along with fellow food critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best noodle dishes in and around town.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

  • Princess Garden — Szechuan noodles. With Szechuan spices, pork, shrimp and chicken.
  • The Antler Room — cavatelli. Homemade pasta with braised lamb, pistachio, orange zest, herbed yogurt and chili oil. It’s a beautiful dish with an explosion of flavor in your mouth.
  • Bella Napoli — Pasta Amatriciana. With rigatoni, pancetta, garlic and spicy tomato sauce.
  • Carmen’s Café — fettuccine al diablo. With shrimp, mussels, clams and squid. Love the hot pepper tomato sauce.
  • Columbus Park Ramen Shop — kimchi ramen. With Chinese-style pork sausage, house kimchi and a marinated farm egg. You can do a chili bomb on it just to add a little extra spice.
  • Shio Ramen Shop — dan dan noodles. With Szechuan peppers, sesame paste, toasted peanuts and chili oil. Served with a choice of ground pork or jackfruit. It’s really great.
  • Shio Ramen Shop. Sometimes they also have a curry-based broth ramen with chicken on the menu.
  • Michael Smith went Italian a while back, and he always has a big pasta section on the menu. My current favorite is the bow tie pasta with Italian sausage, Jimmy Nardello peppers (a sweet red pepper) and broccolini with some white beans. It’s kind of a classic and it’s done really well.
  • Hot Basil — pad Thai. It’s very similar to the original Thai Place version (the same chef who used to work there is now in the kitchen at Hot Basil).
  • Koko Thai in the Crossroads has a really good rendition of pad Thai.
  • Hogshead KC— cold Thai noodle salad. With rice vermicelli, arugula, carrot, cucumber, cilantro and a peanut vinaigrette. I like to add salmon to it. (Lunch only).
  • The Rieger— beet bucatini. Homemade pasta made with beets that’s cooked with guanciale, beet greens and Grana Padano.

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

  • Freshwater. Chef Calvin Davis has finally reopened his small seasonal restaurant in the same location off Southwest Trafficway, and he is serving a housemade tagliatelle pasta dish that is a decadent treat. It’s made with seasonal shoots and wild mushrooms, topped with a 63-degree egg (when you break it, the yolk basically makes the sauce) and slivers of local cheese.
  • Shio Ramen. Chef Patrick Curtis is the only person in Kansas City who makes his own ramen noodles in-house; he uses a Yamato noodle machine. The namesake Shio Ramen is a simple wheat noodle with chicken dashi broth, sea salt, chicken, pork belly, slow-cooked egg, scallion, braised daikon, black garlic oil and nori.
  • 715 in Lawrence. With many handmade pasta dishes to choose from on the menu at this modern Italian restaurant, I highly recommend something with both pork and pasta, since they use heritage pork breeds and break down animals on-site. Simple is better. Get the spaghetti and meatballs, which feature San Marzano marinara, heritage pork meatballs and Parmesan.
  • ABC Café. This Lenexa dim sum house serves a couple of noodle dishes that should be ordered in addition to a table full of small plates. My favorite is the beef or chicken chow fun, a staple Cantonese dish that’s made from stir-frying beef and wide rice noodles, which are then tossed with bean sprouts and green onions.
  • Novel. Chefs Ryan Brazeal and Jessica Armstrong have finally opened up their reboot of Novel in the Crossroads, and I am just crazy for their pasta menu. Get the tagliatelle with a white Bolognese sauce that has pork, veal, sweetbreads, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. You will want to save your slice of his housemade bread to sop up all of the sauce on this one.
  • Mali Thai Bistro — rad na talay. Mali Thai Bistro, in Lee’s Summit, serves this interesting crispy noodle dish that’s very common in Thailand. It is made with rice or egg noodles, pan-fried until they’re really crunchy, and topped with a seafood and vegetable gravy. When that sauce hits the noodles, they start to soften and become really chewy. This eats almost like poutine in a strange way with crispy noodles replacing the French fries. This dish will also be one of the feature dishes of their soon-to-open Crossroads restaurant, Baramee Thai Bistro (in the former Pizzabella location).
  • Michael Smith Restaurant. As we all wait for Michael Smith's new restaurant, Farina, to open at the end of the this year, his all-Italian menu at Michael Smith continues to wow with plenty of handmade pasta options. That includes the simple-but-so-effective linguini alle vongole with clams, white wine and garlic.
  • The Brass Onion. At this restaurant in Prairiefire, the Brancato family delivers a menu of comforting Southern favorites with a little of this and that mixed in. The fettuccine carbonara delivers all the flavors of breakfast pasta, with smoked bacon, Parmesan cheese, eggs and cream. Add chicken, salmon or shrimp to pump up the protein.

Charles Ferruzza, KCUR food critic:

  • Jasper’s Restaurant — Marco Polo’s Italian Dinner. Choice of fettuccine, angel hair, spaghetti, linguine, penne or rigatoni served with choice or meatballs, Italian sausage or meat sauce. It’s like a childhood dream to be able to order your own specific kind of pasta with meatballs or meat sauce.
  • Italian Delight — fettuccine alfredo.
  • Anthony’s on Grand — Spaghetti OBG. Spaghetti tossed in olive oil, garlic and butter.
  • Bo Ling’s— Sichuan dan dan noodles. Soft noodles in a sesame-chili-garlic sauce with a touch of Chinese black vinegar with ground pork or shrimp. It has a nice bite.
  • Columbus Park Ramen Shop is the grandfather of local ramen noodle shops, serving comforting noodle soup dishes in a friendly ambience. Tonkotsu is a signature dish here. A highly flavored, rich pork broth — simmered for 30 hours — and seasoned with white miso and sesame.
  • Thai House — pad Thai. A delectable blend of sweetness and spiciness.

Listener recommendations:

  • Pine & Bamboo Garden — youtiao chow fun. Youtiao is a crispy fried cruller that isn’t sweet. At Pine & Bamboo Garden, it’s wrapped in chow fun noodles. The texture of the wonderful soft noodle with the crispy youtiao inside is wonderful.
  • Shio Ramen — shoyu ramen. It contains a blend of different soy sauces. The broth is really dark and salty, but so satisfying.
  • Ramen Bowls in Lawrence. The noodles are made on-site. I like the Hokkaido Tonkotsu Miso Ramen.
  • Sweet Siam has the BEST pad Thai in town, hands down.
  • Jun’s — cold soba noodles.
  • Blue Koi. The noodles beneath the ginger-basil chicken.

Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at jen@kcur.org and follow her on Twitter @JenChenKC.

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