Any way you pull, shave or slice it, noodles are a hot commodity, with serious slurpers seeking out favorites from Chinatown to Asian markets in the ’burbs. Our picks rank for the quality of the whole bowl as opposed to solely the silky strands.—Heather Shouse
Boat noodles at TAC Quick Thai Kitchen (3930 N Sheridan Rd, 773-327-5253) The slippery vermicelli need the backbone this busy Lakeview restaurant gives ’em: beefy, blood-based broth with brisket hunks, spongy meatballs, Chinese broccoli and crunchy pork rinds. Yes, blood-based. Thank us later. $8.50.
La mian at Katy’s Dumpling House (665 N Cass Ave, Westmont, 630-323-9393) While there’s more of a show at Chinatown’s Hing Kee (2140 S Archer Ave, 312-808-9538), where chef Liu Chang Ming hand-pulls the skinny string noodles to order, the foot-long coils at Katy’s are the best in Chicagoland. Try them with tender eye-of-round and pickled greens in the spicy beef noodle soup or as dan dan mian, swimming in crimson broth rich with tongue-numbing Szechuan peppercorn, ground pork and water spinach. $6.95.
Pho at Hoanh Long (6144 N Lincoln Ave, 773-583-7770) Good luck finding a pho joint in Chicago that makes its own noodles. Hoanh Long is no exception, but it does source fresh noodles as opposed to dried. Combined with a rich, star anise–laced beef broth and a plethora of tender beef cuts, this dish’s non-housemade detractions are forgotten. $6.95.
Chow fun at Sun Wah (5039 N Broadway, 773-769-1254) When it’s wide and crunchy noodles we want, it’s off to this Uptown institution for a heaping helping of the perfectly wok-seared chow fun, woven with the signature roast duck. $7.15.