Hey there, you look hot. A little dewy, in fact. This season is no time for a hot lunch or dinner, and these New York Asian restaurants have just the thing to cool you off: some refreshing cold noodle dishes. They won’t make you sweat, although a few are a little spicy. And it’s no mistake we have eight, lucky you.
Naengmyeon ramen at Mokbar
This Korean ramen bar (New York’s first and only!) at Chelsea Market should be your summer noodle headquarters, starting with their cold naengmyeon ramen. Chef Esther Choi is rotating versions of this summertime special, from a housemade kimchee broth with young radish kimchee to another version with beef brisket and tomato-kimchee broth, springy ramen noodles, and a hard-boiled egg with strips of nori on top. And the broth comes with ice cubes for extra chill. You can explore other dishes like the restorative soybean “kong” cold noodles in soy milk with roasted tomato, pine nuts, cucumber and sesame seeds; the briny seafood “miyeok” with green tea ramen noodles, kombu seafood broth, garlic shrimp, pickled shiitake and cucumber kimchi; and the spicy bibimyun, which is like cold bibimbap but with noodles and housemade gochujang.
Bang bang chicken soba at Cocoron
Both locations of this Lower East Side and Little Italy Japanese noodle shop are known and adored for their soba (buckwheat noodle) dishes. Some swear by the cold soba you dip into a hot broth, others prefer the cold dipping sauce route (try the kimchee or buta shabu soba with sliced pork, shiso and sour plum), and then there’s the “health conscious soba salad,” which is a lot more fun than it sounds. But this summer, try the bang bang chicken soba with shredded chicken breast, tomato, cucumber, the crunch of deep-fried soba and Cocoron’s trademark spicy sesame sauce. Look for a third location opening soon at 16 Delancey St.
Liang pi at Xi’an Famous Foods
These “cold skin” noodles have their own fan club, a harbinger of New Yorker spring and summer eating habits, but they are so good people will eat them year-round. You get a slippery and saucy bowl of chewy wheat starch noodles tossed with bean sprouts, cucumbers, cilantro and spongy cubes of wheat gluten. But that’s just the beginning of the flavor profile of this much-adored dish: the notes of black vinegar, garlic, soy and of course chile oil will inspire you to clear your bowl. But try your best not to splatter yourself (or your neighbor) as you chow down.
Cold sesame mazemen at Shalom Japan
This quirky South Williamsburg restaurant has an ideal hot weather dish that you will hopefully be able to enjoy while seated at one of their outdoor tables for the maximum summer night vibes. Mazemen is technically a brothless ramen, but this cold version still has a portion of flavorful cool broth made from sesame paste and dashi. The satisfying bowl of temomi (“hand massaged”) noodles is topped with slices of roasted chashu pork and crunchy pickled kohlrabi, plus shishito peppers, scallions and shiso, with a little zip from chile oil. Yeah, you want this.
Chilled noodles with spicy sesame vinaigrette at Szechuan Gourmet
Buzz buzz buzz. It’s time to dial your favorite cold sesame noodle dish up a couple notches. These chilled noodles pack a somewhat mentholated and yet simultaneously spicy zip from the Szechuan peppercorn, almost like eating Icy Hot. The sesame oil adds a note of richness, plus sesame seeds, bean sprouts, garlic and scallions get all up in the business of this simple yet oh-so-appealing dish (you’ll find it under appetizers, but it makes a perfect lunchtime meal for one).
Ikan kerabu at Aux Epices
Warm weather means it's time for chef Mei Chau to add a few cold noodle dishes to her Malaysian menu, including ikan kerabu, with a tangle of cold somen noodles, seared salmon, a complex and spicy lemongrass sauce that really brings the magic, diced mango, pineapple, red bell pepper, cucumbers and herbs, like mint, cilantro and basil. If you want something simpler, she also makes a refreshing cold soba noodle with shredded chicken, julienned cucumber, Dijon mustard, soy, sesame oil and scallions.
Spicy hiyashi chuka (cold noodles) at Ramen Setagaya
Just when you think you’re going to have to say goodbye to your ramen habit for the hot months, noodle outposts like Setagaya unleash their cold noodle dishes on us. This cold noodle (hiyashi chuka) dish is only available from April to September, with ramen noodles in a spicy and sweet soy sauce, topped with julienned BBQ pork, egg, cucumber, chopped tomato, nori, ginger, sesame seeds, spicy ground pork sauce and the coup de grace: a little dollop of mustard on the side! Actually, a Sapporo on the side is the other winning way to go.
Bún chả cá at An Choi
The Vietnamese have been crushing the cold noodle game from the beginning, and even though vermicelli with grilled lemongrass pork and fried egg rolls is all kinds of awesome, be sure to try An Choi’s spin on the classic Hanoi dish of cha ca la Vong. A bowl of vermicelli noodles is top-loaded with sautéed catfish marinated with turmeric, and then crowned with a flurry of fresh dill. The bowl also comes with thinly sliced pickled onions, crunchy sesame cracker, pickled carrots and daikon, lettuce, mint, cucumbers, crushed peanuts, sautéed scallions and fish sauce, boom.