Noodles are the perfect meal foundation and flavour vehicle (sorry rice, but the battle lines are drawn here). The process of rolling, stretching, pulling and cutting them is an art form in itself – though we won’t turn our nose up at a plate of well dressed instant noodles either. Because sometimes you're after chewy glass noodles swimming in a fiery tom yum soup, and other times it's slippery flat noodles, straight from a red hot wok, we've rounded up the 18 best noodle dishes in Sydney to satisfy every craving
Recommended: The 50 best cheap east in Sydney.
The best noodles in Sydney
Order the: Indomee goreng
You do not have the home skills to elevate instant noodles to the kind of lofty flavour ranks they achieve here. Curly noodle strands are stained a glossy chestnut by the housemade black sauce (a potent mix of soy sauce, caramel sauce, kicap manis and oyster sauce) and capped with a soft fried egg. Also the char kway teow here is spectacular: juicy Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, egg, green onion and charred flat rice noodles wearing wok breath like a heady perfume.
Order the: Bun bo hue
They may be named for those golden, savoury pancakes, but the beef noodle soup from Central Vietnam is also a hot item at Banh Xeo Bar. Ten hours of simmering pulls every meaty vestige from beef bones, creating a broth with savoury depths to rival the Mariana Trench. Short, slippery rice noodles and tender, fatty slices of beef provide comfort, while chilli and lemongrass bring tropical heat. Like to supersize? Upgrade to a multi-meat menagerie and add pork shoulder and pig’s head nuggets to the mix for an extra $3.
Order the: Tom yum level two lava with glass noodles
The main event here is the signature tom yum noodles, coming in a clean, sweetly porky, hot-and-sour broth, hit with generous spoonfuls of fried garlic and topped with crispy wonton strips. Competitive friends can be seen challenging one another on levels of heat, stomaching chilli levels up to seven with precautionary names like ‘devil’, ‘lava’, ‘super volcano’, and all the way up to ‘super nova’. Order at your own risk.
Order the: Tonkotsu soy ramen
The heart of this dish is the broth, which is bold in flavour but not too salty despite the addition of soy seasoning – it's like liquid roast pork and is thick enough so your spoon disappears after being dunked in just a centimetre, but it also somehow manages to avoid being heavy. The egg is soft and seasoned with soy, the round roast pork melts in your mouth and the noodles are stringy yet firm, making for a textural adventure.
Order the: Char kway teow
Alice's CKT isn't halal, which means it can be closer to the original version of the dish cooked in Penang, with its little bits of crisp fried pork fat tossed through the noodles. The squid is cut finely and precisely, each piece coming out looking like a roller from a car wash; the prawns are big and firm; and, most telling of all, the smokiness and voluminous quality of the finished product, laden as it is with bean sprouts, egg and sausage, suggests a good, hot wok and an experienced hand.
Order the: Pho
There are a few pho places on this busy strip of George Street, just down from Central Station, but this is the one we like best. Sit in the window seat and watch the crowds rush by while slurping a piping hot bowl of broth with an impressively deep, savoury, bone-rich flavour. It comes packed with heaps of fresh flat noodles and the traditional plate of bean sprouts, lemon and stalks of Thai basil served on the side, ready to add fragrance and flavour to your soup.
Order the: Rice noodles with beef
This Angel Place kitchen is a fire and smoke-fuelled locomotive, filling the dining room with that sweet wok breath that promises flat noodles with extra char. Your order of rice noodles will arrive at the table so thoroughly stained in a sweet Thai dark soy sauce that it's hard to tell the slices of beef from the noodles at first.
Order the: Biang biang noodles
Down in Sydney’s Chinatown, Xi’an Biang Biang is dishing out bowls of these pappardelle-like fat noodles topped with either hot chilli, stewed pork or tomato and egg. For purists, choose straight chilli oil, a simple slick coating that dresses the noodles and pools just slightly in the bottom of the bowl. The chilli is a warming, roasted style with a slight vinegar edge – you won’t need a fire extinguisher.
Order the: Lagman noodles
There are just a fistful of places repping the Uyghur food (which hails from the far northwestern province of Xinjiang, China) but Tarim Uyghur is one of the most faithful. Devotees travel for the lagman, in which chewy, hand-pulled noodles are boiled then wok-tossed with lamb (or chicken, or neither) plus capsicum, chives and cabbage. It’s hot, filling and saucy enough to be slurpable, but for extra fun get it ‘ding ding’ style, where the dough is cut into button-sized pillows and folded through a soupier version of the chilli and cumin-inflected sauce.
Order the: Chongqing noodles
Firm, slippery noodles come wading in a rich, deep red broth, with a few pieces of slow cooked beef. It leaves a slick of oil in your mouth and a lasting hum of Sichuan spice. It’s an unctuous mouthful, and hot tip for this hot soup – don’t wear white: the red chilli and pepper oil isn’t forgiving. Once you get past the heat of the broth, it sings with a deep, flavourful meatiness.
Order the: Cold kimchi soup
It comes in a massive bowl piled high with long, thin, chewy noodles surrounded by neon toned, bright red broth – which is so icy-cold that the texture is verging on slushie territory. There’s a half boiled egg, a hefty dollop of spicy gochujang (chilli sauce) and a big heap of housemade kimchi crowning the top.
Order the: Japanese bolognese
This warming dish takes the homey cues of the rustic Italian favourite and supplements pasta for slippery udon noodles. These come swimming in nubs of slow cooked, almost sweet porky mince, slices of king brown mushroom and a scattering a bright green onion. Twist it round on your chopsticks and you’ve got a triumphant umami-fied mouthful.
Order the: Chicken laksa
This stripped back Chinese restaurant located within the much loved Sussex Centre food court has been serving up laksas to hungry Sydneysiders for the past two decades. They've perfected the recipe to strike a balance between creamy and spicy, and the serving size will never leave you hungry.
Order the: Zinjing handmade noodles
A whole plate of hand pulled noodles here will set you back just $11.80, and that's one of the many reason the queue snakes out of this Chinatown staple every night of the week. The northwestern handmade noodles are offset by the giant hunting tapestries all over the walls that make it look like a mix between a discount rug shop and fetish house. But boy, are the noodles good.
Order the: Pad Thai
This is the Prada of pad Thais right here: all silky noodles, tamarind and green onion, which is then luxed up with roasted-and-boned duck with its very own condiment set. The fact that you can also get it on the supper menu until 2am makes this one of Sydney's best late-night eats into the bargain.
Order the: Mi Goreng toastie
This is a genius collision of two great late-night snacks: instant noodles and the contents of a fridge-raiding session, wedged into a toaster. Dutch Smuggler’s version squeezes in noodles, a fried egg, shallots, a double meltdown of cheese (oozy mozzarella and sweet, nutty Gruyere) and a mysterious “magic sauce” between its crunchy triangles of bread. Originally a special, it’s no wonder it now has permanent residency on the menu.
Order the: Chopped pork ball in noodle soup
The Noodle Pot in Chinatown specialises in this more subtle and sweeter Shanghai style soup. Here, the finely diced mince in the meat balls is a little salty, almost like ham, and the coating of the slightly sweet, barbecue-flavoured sauce adds breadth to the light broth. The noodles are wheaty, wiggly and plentiful, a large portion laid neatly down the middle of the bowl with meatballs on either side.
Order the: Cacio e pepe
We wouldn't usually include an Italian dish in this list, but this iteration uses kelp noodles in place of pasta and zero parmesan, navigating right away from its traditional origins. It's served cold, and the chewy seaweed-imbued noodles are coated in a creamy, peppery almond sauce. And since it's totally plant-based, everyone can eat it.