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40 Best Noodle Dishes in the World

We’ve eaten noodles in dozens of countries around the globe. Grab a fork or some chopsticks and discover our picks for the 40 best noodle dishes in the world.

Gramigna with Sausage Sauce at Ristorante da Danilo in Modena

You can call us equal opportunity noodle eaters.

We love eating noodle dishes in Asia, Europe and our home country of America. We also love eating noodles and cooking them in our Lisbon kitchen.

This love didn’t happen overnight. It began before we met when our moms cooked spaghetti and meatballs from scratch and heated up cans of Spaghetti-O’s.

Pho with Spoon at Kotti Dang in Berlin
Proving that noodles are a global food, we ate this authentic bowl of Vietnamese Phở in Berlin.

The starchy food even played a role in our courtship when Mindi made pasta for Daryl on our third date. He gave her an E for Effort when she mistakenly rinsed the pasta after cooking it but that’s a different story.

We took our noodle love to the next level during a three-year world tour during which we ate all types of noodle dishes in various shapes and forms in dozens of cities and countries. Now that we live in Lisbon, we cook noodle dishes inspired by Chinese, Italian, Korean and Thai cuisines at home.

We don’t just eat noodles during our travels. Discover our picks for the 35 best sandwiches in the world.

The History of Noodles

Rigatoni Pasta
We don’t just order noodle dishes at restaurants. We also cook them at home.

You’ve surely heard the story about how the explorer Marco Polo discovered pasta in China and brought it back to Italy during the 13th century. It’s a great tale that links two of the world’s greatest culinary countries. However, it’s not a true story.

The real history of noodles is longer, deeper and less definitive. Although food historians assert that Italians ate a form of pasta made from durum wheat well before Polo’s semi-fictional journey, they weren’t the first in the world. An archaeological dig in China uncovered preserved noodles dating back 4,000 years.

Then there are countries like Greece and Turkey with their own noodle histories. And don’t get us started about rice…

Food travel is fun! Discover 34 exciting food cities.

Our History with Noodles

Osaka Ramen Museum Selfie
We took our noodle love to the next level when we visited the instant noodle museum located on the outskirts of Osaka.

We didn’t intend to eat noodles around the world – it happened naturally. Our insatiable noodle love drove us to eat ramen at 2 in the morning soon after arriving in Osaka and explore the Kansai region’s role in creating the best instant ramen noodles that same week.

We’ve hunted for truffles before eating them on pasta in the Italian hills and we’ve slurped noodles while sitting on teeny tiny stools in Hanoi. We’ve also taken pasta making classes from sfoglinas in Emilia Romagna.

Trattoria Pomposa Pasta in Modena
Pasta comes in many shapes and forms around the world. We like them all.

Instead of getting bored of eating slippery, starchy strands, we rarely say no to noodles. Instead, we simply request hot sauce, grated cheese or both depending on where we are in the world.

The Best Noodle Dishes in the World

Okinawa Soba Selfie at Ganso Daito Soba in Naha Japan
Noodle make us smile. We smiled while slurping these noodles in Naha, Japan.

After slurping an auspicious amount of noodles with chopsticks and twirling just as many with forks, we’re ready to share our picks for the best noodle dishes in the world. Some feature noodles extruded through a machine while others have hand crafted noodles. At the end of the day, as noted above, we’re equal opportunity noodle eaters.

We’ve included noodles made with wheat flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour and even sweet potato starch in this list. However, we don’t include dumplings. Who knows? Maybe we’ll pick our favorite dumplings later.

Read on to discover our picks for the best noodles in the world:

1. Tagliatelle al Ragu (Italy)

Tagliatelle Ragu in Bologna
We’ve eaten an auspicious amount of Tagliatelle al Ragù during multiple trips to Bologna. This version at Trattoria di Via Serra with white ragù ranks as our favorite.

Tagliatelle al Ragù is the shining pasta star in Bologna, a city so food-focused that it earned the nickname La Grassa (the fat one) within Italy. Many have copied this noodle dish but there’s nothing like eating an authentic plate of Tagliatelle al Ragù at the source.

Read our Bologna food guide.

Dating back to the 1700s, an authentic ragù includes a range of ingredients that starts with a soffrito (a mirepoix of celery, onions and carrots), a small amount of tomato (ironically not the dominant ingredient in Bolognese ragù), olive oil, milk, ground meat (beef, pork and veal), white wine and occasionally nutmeg.

Pro Tip
Pair your Tagliatelle al Ragù with sparkling ruby red Lambrusco for maximum enjoyment.

2. Ramen (Japan)

Hakata Ramen at Hakata Daruma in Fukuoka Japan
We’ve eaten Ramen all over the world. This bowl of Hakata Ramen in Fukuoka was our favorite so far.

Ramen’s inspiration comes from East China’s wheat Lamien noodles; however, after more than a century, it’s fair to give Japan credit for creating one of the world’s most popular noodle soups. This noodle soup features a range of broth options including dark porky tonkatsu, salty dark shoyu, simple seasoned shio and funky miso.

Beyond wheat noodles and regardless of the broth, expect ingredients like chāsū (pork), nori (seaweed), scallions and a softly boiled egg when you order Raman. This applies whether you’re in Japan or anywhere else in the world.

Read our Osaka ramen guide.

While we’ve slurped Ramen in global cities like Budapest, Copenhagen, Girona, Lisbon, London, New York and Paris, none have matched the quality of the bowls we’ve slurped in Japan. Whether we’re in Fukuoka (Hakata Ramen’s home land) or cities like Kyoto, Osaka, Naha or Tokyo, we never regret eating Ramen in its home country.

Pro Tip
Ramen is a freestyle eating event. While certain varieties are typically always on offer, it’s not unusual to find regional styles within Japan as well as in destinations like Spain and Tennessee.

3. Cacio e Pepe (Italy)

Tonarelli Cacio e Pepe at Rome Restaurant
Black pepper and salty Pecorino Romano added ample flavor to this plate of Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe we ate in Rome.

Cacio e Pepe is the king of Roman pasta despite a seemingly simple recipe with just three ingredients. Beyond the two ingredient (cheese and pepper) in its name, Cacio e Pepe’s only other ingredient is pasta.

Discover 25 Rome food favorites.

When we’re not in Italy, we prepare Cacio e Pepe at home using Pecorino Romano and pasta just like Roman chefs and nonnas use in Rome. We’ve even perfected a Cacio e Pepe recipe that’s both easy to cook and tasty to eat.

Pro Tip
Consider cooking Amatriciana or Gricia at home if you want to experience a popular Roman pasta that’s not so easy to find at restaurants outside of Rome.

4. Pho (Vietnam)

Pho at Hanoi Restaurant
We joined the crowd when we ate this bowl of Phở for breakfast in Hanoi. It provided us with more that enough energy to conquer the day.

While Phở is to Vietnam what Ramen is to Japan, the two Asian noodle soups are actually quite different. Unlike Ramen, Phở has flat, fettuccine-like Phở noodles and a broth that varies based on its origin within Vietnam. Also, unlike Ramen which has Chinese influences, Phở is more aligned with elements of French cuisine.

Read more about eating Phở in Hanoi where the iconic noodle soup was invented.

The Vietnamese eat Phở for breakfast and throughout the day. Popular varieties include Phở Bo with beef and Phở Ga with chicken. Both versions are pure magic when cooked low and slow before ladled into the bowl and topped with herbs.

Pro Tip
Add red peppers or a dash of hot sauce if you want to spice up your bowl of Phở.

5. Cincinnati Chili (USA)

Cincinnati Chili at Home
We made and ate this 3-Way Cincinnati Chili at home. It did not disappoint.

Cincinnati Chili is an all-American noodle dish. Not only is this dish big and tasty, but it also reflects the country’s melting pot. Macedonian immigrants invented this dish with Italian noodles and Mediterranean spices while living in Ohio. Phew.

Read our Cincinnati Chili recipe and make it at home.

Although adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to chili and then piling it on top of spaghetti may sound odd, the combination works. An orange tower of shredded cheddar makes it even better, though some people take the dish even farther by adding chopped onions and kidney beans.

Pro Tip
Order 3-Way Chili if you just want cheddar cheese. Otherwise, ramp up to 4-Way or 5-Way if you want to add onions and/or beans.

6. Dan Dan Noodles (China)

Dan Dan Noodles at Philadephia Restaurant
Our mouths were on fire after we ate this bowl of Dan Dan Noodles in Philadelphia.

Eating Dan Dan Mian (Dan Dan Noodle)s isn’t for the weak. This noodle dish packs a whallop thanks to a one-two punch of burning chili oil and numbing Sichuan pepppercorns. But those who love spicy food will love eating this dish whether they’re in China or at a Chinese restaurant like Han Dynasty in Philadelphia.

Read our Philadelphia food guide.

We fell for the classic Sichuan noodle dish in Chengdu when we ate our first comforting bowl of egg noodles mixed with spicy meat sauce. Despite the mouth-numbing nature of the dish, that first bowl wasn’t our last.

Pro Tip
Have a drink at the ready when you eat Dan Dan Noodles. You may need to take a big gulp to counteract the dish’s spicy flavors.

7. Pad Thai (Thailand)

Pad Thai at Chiang Mai Restaurant
Many people consider Pad Thai to be the national dish of Thailand. As for us, we considered this plate of Pad Thai to be lunch.

Many of Thailand’s best dishes have long and storied histories. Despite its global fame and mass availability, Pad Thai is not one of these dishes. Instead, the popular street food noodle dish was invented during the 20th history.

Read our Chiang Mai food guide.

Thai cooks quickly prepare Pad Thai by wok frying rice noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts, egg and a protein (typically beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu) with lemongrass and kaffir limes in a wok. Much of the dish’s signature flavor comes from additional ingredients like fish garlic, red chili peppers and palm sugar.

Pro Tip
Don’t forget to squeeze fresh lime juice on your Pad Thai while the noodle dish is hot.

8. Fideuà (Spain)

Fideua at Costa Brava Restaurant
This savory plate of Fideuà tasted especially good since we helped cook the savory Spanish noodle dish.

Despite luxurious ingredients like prawns, squid and saffron, Fideuà was originally a noodle dish of poverty eaten by Spanish fishermen. We learned this and more during an interactive cooking class at the Palamos fish market during the month we lived in Girona.

Read our Girona food guide.

We also learned that Catalonian cooks simmer short, golden noodles in rich broth flavored by Costa Brava’s bounty of fresh fish and seafood. Locals typically add a dollop of creamy, garlicy aioli for good measure whether they eat Fideuà in a fishing village or in a city like Barcelona.

Fun Fact
Although this Spanish noodle dish is entrenched in Catalan cuisine, Fideuà was originally invented in Valencia more than a century ago.

9. Bun Cha (Vietnam)

Bun Cha at Hanoi Restaurant
We had fun eating Bún Chả for lunch in Hanoi. It’s no wonder that it’s so popular with Hanoi locals.

Bún Chả was a local Hanoi food favorite until two dining companions catapulted this Vietnamese noodle dish into the international spotlight. Since those two diners were the then United States President Barack Obama and the late Anthony Bourdain, global interest was inevitable.

Read our Hanoi food guide.

But what is Bún Chả? This savory noodle dish combines bún (rice vermicelli noodles) with chả (grilled pork) soaked in Nước Chấm (a sweet, savory sauce featuring fish sauce, sugar and vinegar). A mountain of fresh herbs including perilla (shiso) complete the meal.

Pro Tip
Order a side of Nem (fried spring rolls) when you eat Bún Chả at a Vietnamese restaurant.

10. Pasta Carbonara (Italy)

Tonarelli Carbonara at Rome Restaurant
Pasta Carbonara is an Italian dish that easy to eat. We ate this plate of Tonarelli Carbonara in Rome.

Numerous Roman dishes date back millennia to the days when the Roman empire dominated much of the world. Pasta Carbonara is not one of those dishes. Instead, this popular pasta is a 20th century invention that caught on relatively quickly.

Read our Linguine Carbonara recipe and make it at home.

Roman chefs prepare Carbonara sauce by combining emulsified egg yolks with guanciale (cured pork jowl), starchy pasta water and salty Pecorino Romano cheese. Served over linguine or spaghetti, the resulting sauce is creamy, rich and wonderful.

Pro Tip
Replace guanciale with pancetta or bacon if you’re making the dish from scratch and can’t find guanciale in your home town.

11. Spaghetti Parm (USA)

Spaghetti Parmigiana at Buffalo Restaurant
Spaghetti Parm is a guilty pleasure that we ate without guilt in Buffalo.

While spaghetti and Parmigiano-Reggiano are Italian products, Spaghettti Parm is as American as it gets. Or, in this case, Italian American. The team at Chef’s in Buffalo invented the iconic Buffalo dish in the 1960s and it remains the restaurant’s signature dish to this day.

Read our Buffalo food guide.

While Spaghetti Parm has spaghetti as advertised, the chefs at Chef’s smother noodles with mozzarella cheese instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Shouldn’t it be called Spaghetti Mozz?? Eaten with a side of marinara sauce, it’s a fun dish that tastes good despite its ironic name.

Pro Tip
Don’t be shy when adding marinara sauce to Spaghetti Parm. This is not a dish where less is more.

12. Lasagna (Italy)

Lasagna Verde al Forno at Bologna Restaurant
We ate this chunky slice of Lasagne Verde for lunch in Bologna.

Lasagna is an Italian dish that dates back centuries. Although food historians trace the the layered pasta dish back to Naples in the Middle Ages, it’s popularity spread throughout Italy up to the Food Valley in Emilia-Romagna and beyond.

Read about Italy’s Food Valley.

The Emilia-Romagna version with layers of sheet noodles, ragù and Béchamel sauce is a little different from the lasagna of our youth. (That Lasagna had ricotta and ground meat. You’ll find something similar to it in Southern Italy.) However, we can’t get enough of Bologna’s Lasagna Verde al Forno with its colorful layers of green spinach noodles, ragù, Béchamel sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pro Tip
Spinach makes Lasagna Verde al Forno healthy. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

13. Pastitsio (Greece)

Pastitsio at Meteora Restaurant
We ate this slab of Pastisio in Meteora. Although it didn’t have tubular noodles, its taste and texture were excellent.

If you think that Greek Pastitsio looks like Italian Lasagna, you’re not alone. After all, both noodle dishes feature layers of pasta, meat sauce and Béchamel. Plus, the word Pastitsio has roots in the Italian language.

Discover 10 Greek food favorites.

But, make no mistake, Pastitsio is indeed Greek with Mediterranean spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice often in the recipe. A sprinkling of grated goat cheese adds to the dish’s ‘Greekness’ as well as to its flavor.

Pro Tip
While the noodles in Pastisio are usually tubular (think penne), other noodles work well in this dish too.

14. Japchae (Korea)

Japchae Close Up at Home
We made this Korean Japchae in our wok. It was so tasty that we made it again.

Japchae is a unique noodle dish in this list and not just because it’s the only one that hails from Korea. It’s the only noodle dish featuring dangmyeon noodles made with sweet potato flour. With a cellophane or glass-like appearance, dangmyeon noodles are as chewy as they are translucent.

Read about the best places to eat in Busan and Seoul.

Originally a noodle-free dish eaten by royalty centuries ago, Japchae became popular with the masses in the 20th century after dangmyeon noodles were added to the recipe. Other Japchae ingredients include vegetables like carrots, onions, mushrooms, scallions and spinach as well as proteins like beef and pork. Sesame sauce, sesame oil and sugar provide the dish’s intense flavor.

Pro Tip
You can eat Japchae as either a banchan (side dish) or main course.

15. Bun Bo Hue (Vietnam)

Bun Bo Hue at Hue Restaurant
The brown block in our bowl of Bún Bò Huế looked like chocolate but was actually gelatinous pig blood. Don’t be deterred – it’s an optional ingredient.

While Bún Bò Huế may not have the global acclaim achieved by Phở, Vietnam’s ‘other’ soup is equally spoon-worthy with its deep and spicy flavors.

While both soups have rice noodles, the ones in Bún Bò Huế are shaped like vermicelli. The dish diverges further by adding carnivorous ingredients like beef shank, oxtail and pig knuckle to its recipe. Some Bún Bò Huế recipes include a bonus bit – gelatinous pig blood.

Read more about Bún Bò Huế.

Another difference between the two Vietnamese soups is origin. While Phở was invented in Hanoi in the late 19th century, Bún Bò Huế has 16th century roots in the royal city of Hue. Despite its name, other Vietnamese cities serve this spicy noodle soup though they just call it Bún Bò.

Pro Tip
Add herbs, banana blossom and hot chili flakes to make this Vietnamese noodle soup’s flavor your own.

16. Spaghetti alle Vongole (Italy)

Spaghetti Vongole at Naples Restaurant
We ate this plate of Spaghetti alle Vongole in Naples where the dish was invented.

Althgough Spaghetti alle Vongole was invented in Naples, the simple dish that pairs spaghetti with clams is available throughout Italy. We’ve eaten the dish as far south as it Neapolitan home city and as far north as the canal-filled city of Venice.

Discover 27 Naples food favorites.

Regardless of where you eat Spaghetti alle Vongole in Italy, you can expect spaghetti and clams as advertised in the dish’s name. Other typical ingredients include garlic, olive oil and white wine. Some pasta recipes add tomatoes as well, though this is more of a Southern Italian addition.

Pro Tip
Don’t add grated cheese if you want to eat this dish like a true Italian. Seafood and cheese makes Italians go “blech!”

17. Soba (Japan)

Okinawa Soba at Naha Restaurant
Not all bowls of Soba are the same. We ate this Okinawa version with wheat noodles in Naha.

In Japan, the word soba refers to both buckwheat and noodles. With this in mind, it makes sense that Soba (the dish) usually features noodles made with buckwheat. These noodles are typically longer and thinner compared to ramen and udon noodles featured in other Japanese dishes.

Discover 37 Japanese food favorites.

Interestingly, not all Soba dishes and noodles are the same in Japan. The dishes can be both hot and cold with tsuyu (a flavorful mixture of dashi, sweet soy sauce and mirin) either inside the soup or on the side.

The Japanese dish Okinawa Soba has wheat noodles instead of their buckwheat brethren. Go figure!

Pro Tip
Eat Soba on New Year’s Eve. It’s a Japanese tradition!

18. Tortellini in Brodo (Italy)

Tortellini in Brodo in Modena
Although a nonna didn’t prepare this Tortellini in Brodo for us in Modena, the grandma bowl was still a nice touch.

Lasagna isn’t the only pasta worth eating in Emilia-Romagna. The region has an embarrassment of pasta riches that includes anolini, cappelletti, passatelli, tagliatelle, and tortellini.

While we could easily wax poetically about each of these pastas, the noodle dish that stands out is Tortellini. Not only have we taken classes to learn how to make this pasta (spoiler alert – it’s harder than it looks), but we’ve also eaten the meaty pasta morsels in various ways. In our opinion, the best way eating Tortellini in Brodo at restaurants in Bologna and Modena.

Read our Modena food guide.

Simply described as tortellini swimming in a bowl of capon broth, Tortellini in Brodo is that and so much more. It’s the dish we seek first whenever we return to Emilia-Romagna. It’s Italy’s version of comforting chicken noodle soup except that it has a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top which makes it taste even better.

Pro Tip
As an option, you can eat Tortellini topped with a creamy white sauce made with Parmigiano cheese.

19. Lanzhou Noodle Soup (China)

Pulled Noodles at Nan Zhou in Philadelphia
We ate this bowl of soup with Lanzhou pulled noodles at Nan Zhou in Philadelphia.

When it comes to Asian noodle dishes, the importance of Lanzhou noodles can’t be overstated.

Industrious Chinese noodle makers invented these noodles in Lanzhou where they still pull and manipulate piles of dough into silky strands. Eating these noodles in a bowl of soup is our personal version of nooodle heaven.

Fun Fact
Lanzhou translates to hand pulled noodle.

20. Shanghai Noodles (China)

Lamian Noodles in Shanghai
We took a break from slurping soup dumplings to eat these spicy Lamian noodles in Shanghai.

Eating noodles in cities like Shanghai is the equivalent of visiting Mecca for noodle lovers. While few food travelers make it to Lanzhou, most stop in Shanghai at some point of their journeys. We were no exception to this trend during our visits in both 2009 and 2018.

While we ate plenty of xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), eating plates of stir-fried noodles in Shanghai never disappointed us. We especially enjoyed eating heaping plates of Lamian noodles made by hand and served with love.

Pro Tip
Look for Lamian noodles in your corner of the world. They’re occasionally sold fresh in Asian markets.

21. Khao Soi (Thailand)

Khao Soi at Chiang Mai Cooking Class
Khao Soi may be the crunchiest Thai curry dish as well as the tastiest.

Dating back to the days of the Lanna Kingdom, Khao Soi can best be described as Thai comfort food in a bowl. The Northern Thai dish with Burmese roots is especially popular in the cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Read more about Khao Soi.

Thai cooks simmer Khao Soi low and slow for hours before serving the spicy Thai noodle soup. Ingredients include fresh and fried egg noodles as well as curry and coconut milk.

The is a dish developed by Islamic people so expect chicken or beef as the featured protein. Condiments like pickled mustard greens and ground chilies add a pleasing kick.

Pro Tip
Eat as much Khao Soi as possible when you visit Thailand. This dish isn’t so easy to find outside the Land of Smiles except in cities like Portland and Las Vegas.

22. Spaetzle (Germany)

Spaetzle at the Munich Airport
Spaetzle is Germany’s contribution to the wonderful world of noodles. We paired our spaetzle with a bratwurst at Munich International Airport.

Spätzle, small noodles made with eggs, flour, salt and water, were originally made by hand three centuries ago in Southwest Germany. Or were they? Similar noodles are also popular in nearby countries including Austria, France, Hungary and Slovenia.

Read our Hamburg food guide.

We’ve eaten Spaetzle in all of these countries as well as in the United States. Regardless of their actual original, these noodles qualify as Central European comfort food in our book. They make a great side dish and taste wonderful when smothered with cheese sauce or beef gravy.

Fun Fact
The word spätzle derives from spatz with translates to little sparrow.

23. Stropachka (Hungary)

Str0pachka at Budapest Restaurant
Most of the Hungarian food we ate in Budapest was hearty. Stropachka was no exception.

Also called Nokedli, Stropachka are similar so similar to Spaetzle that we did a double take the first time we ate them in Budapest. Since we spent over a month in Budapest, that first serving was far from our last. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we really like noodles.

Read our Budapest food guide.

The similarity between Spätzle and Stropachka isn’t surprising considering the close relationship between Germany and Hungary. However, eating the Hungarian noodle dish with goulash or chicken paprikash is better done in the Pearl of the Danube.

Pro Tip
Buy a Spaetzle maker from Amazon if you want to make Stropachka at home. The noodles are that similar.

24. Mi Quang (Vietnam)

Mi Quang at Da Nang Restaurant
Mì Quảng was our favorite breakfast when we lived in Da Nang. We topped this particular bowl with both pork and shrimp.

The Vietnamese rice noodle dish called Mì Quảng (pronounced mee wong) is a breakfast staple in Central Vietnam cities like Da Nang and Hoi An. In fact, missing the dish during a visit to either city would be ‘Mì Wrong’.

Read our Da Nang food guide.

More than just wide rice noodles, Mì Quảng is a soupy dish with protein (typically chicken, eel, pork or shrimp) on top and herbs on the side. Optional condiments like chili and fish sauce add extra oomph.

Pro Tip
Mì Quảng is a two-utensil dish. You’ll want to use chopsticks to eat the noodles and a spoon to lap up the beefy broth.

25. Bigoli in Salsa (Italy)

Bigoli Pasta at Verona Restaurant
Bigoli in Salsa is a popular dish in the Veneto. We ate this version in Verona.

With 20 distinct regions, each with its own pasta specialties, Italy has a lot of different pastas in its noodle arsenal. In the Veneto, one of those pasta specialties is Bigoli in Salsa.

We ate this Italian noodle dish in Verona and then we ate it again in Venice. But what is it?

Read our Verona food guide.

Venetians and their neighbors have been eating bigoli, thick spaghetti noodles, for centuries. The salsa, or sauce, is traditionally made with salty sardines or anchovies. In a nod to Venice’s position on the historic silk road, some chefs add cinnamon to this pasta dish.

Pro Tip
Don’t skip Bigoli in Salsa if you’re not a fan of anchovies or sardines. Other protein options include octopus and duck ragù.

26. Jook-Sing Mein (China)

Bamboo Pole Noodles at Hong Kong Restaurant
There was no bamboo in our Bamboo Pole Noodles. We were okay with that.

Jook-Sing Mein, descriptively known as Bamboo Pole Noodles, is a relatively new Hong Kong noodle dish having ‘only’ been around for a century, give or take. However, due to its laborious preparation, this dish may not survive the test of time.

Read our Hong Kong food guide.

Considering that workers literally bounce on bamboo poles to make Bamboo Pole Noodles, the dish’s name makes sense. Eating a hot bowl of these al dente noodles along with savory broth, braised beef and crunchy greens makes even more sense.

Pro Tip
Eat Bamboo Pole Noodles as soon as you arrive in Hong Kong. You don’t want to chance missing this noodle during your trip and in your life.

27. Barbeue Spaghetti (USA)

BBQ Spaghetti at Memphis Restaurant
Barbecue and Spaghetti are two words that don’t usually go together except in Memphis where we ate this heaping plate of Barbecue Spaghetti.

Memphis is famous around the world for smokey pulled pork and slow-cooked ribs served both wet and dry. Though less famous, the city’s Barbecue Spaghetti is a unique noodle dish not to miss in the Home of the Blues.

Read our Memphis food guide.

Invented in Memphis decades ago, Barbecue Spaghetti pairs spaghetti noodles with tangy red sauce and a prodigious amount of slow-cooked shredded pork. Though spaghetti has Italian heritage, this is a truly all-American noodle dish that’s also a Memphis food icon.

Pro Tip
Add a side of Texas Toast for the full Spaghetti BBQ experience.

28. Pasta Genovese (Italy)

Paccheri Genovese at Naples Restaurant
We were unsure about Pasta Genovese until we ate the meaty pasta dish in the city where it was invented. The name may channel Genoa but this dish is a classic Napoli pasta dish.

Pasta Genovese is an Italian pasta dish with a twist. While the name implies a Genoa origin in the northwestern region of Liguria, the dish actually hails from Naples in Italy’s southern Campania region. Regardless of where it was invented centuries ago, Pasta Genovese is an Italian pasta worth eating.

Make Pasta alla Genovese recipe in your home kitchen.

Neapolitan chefs simmer meat with white wine and a sauce that includes A LOT of onions to make Pasta Genovese. Cooked low and slow, melted onions give the sauce a richness best paired with paccheri (smooth, tubular pasta) or similarly shaped noodles.

Pro Tip
Save some white wine to drink with your meal if you cook Pasta Genovesse at home.

29. Kuay Tiaw Reua (Thailand)

Thai Boat Noodles at Boankok Restaurant
We ate this Boat Noodle Soup on land in Bangkok. It still tasted good.

Kuay Tiaw Reua a/k/a Boat Noodle Soup is a Thai noodle dish with a story. Although the dish is now served in Bangkok restaurants, Kuay Tiaw Reua was originally sold by vendors who sailed small boats along the city’s canals. Hence the name Boat Noodle Soup.

→ Read about our Bangkok street food tour.

We first experienced the joy of eating Boat Noodle Soup during a half-day Bangkok street food tour. Despite its nautical roots, the thick soup has meat instead of seafood in addition to noodles and traditional Thai ingredients like dark soy sauce, morning glory and chili flakes.

Pro Tip
Unlike many noodle dishes, Kuay Tiaw Reua’s noodle options are not limited to one type of noodles.

30. Bánh Canh (Vietnam)

Banh Canh at Da Nang Restaurant
Bánh Canh is one of our favorite noodle dishes to eat in Vietnam. We slurped this bowl in Da Nang.

Bánh Canh’s star ingredient is extruded medium thick noodles made from either tapioca flour, rice flour or a combination of both. The other key ingredient is beefy broth. Although we frequently ate it in central Da Nang, the Vietnamese noodle dish is especially popular in southern cities like Saigon.

Read our Saigon food guide.

Different from both phở and bún noodles, tapioca noodles are chewy in texture and glassy in appearance. Despite its relatively small size, Vietnam is truly a giant country when it comes to its commitment to noodles.

Pro Tip
Dip fried bread called Bánh Quây into your bowl for the full Bánh Canh experience.

31. Ravioli (Italy)

Ravioli with Fork in Florence
Italy’s Ravioli has spanned the world. We ate this meat-filled morsel in Florence.

Not all noodle dishes look and taste alike and such is the case with Ravioli. Typically square in shape, Italy’s filled pasta favorite comes with fillings that run the gamut from brown butter and sage to mortadella and even pumpkin depending on the season and region.

Italy isn’t the only country that puts Ravioli on the menu. We’ve eaten versions in diverse destinations including Tokyo, Dublin, Buffalo and Paris. However, our favorite Ravioli dishes have been in Italian cities like Bologna and Florence.

Discover more Florence food favorites.

But make no mistake. Italy is the best location for eating Ravioli. After all, Italian chefs have been making Ravioli by hand for centuries.

Fun Fact
Ettor Boiardi, otherwise known as Chef Boyardee, introduced a generation of Americans to Ravioli. The influential chef was born in Piacenza in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.

32. Udon (Japan)

Udon Noodles at Budapest Restaurant
Proving that Udon has reached international status, we slurped this Udon at a Budapest izakaya.

Wide, chewy Udon is yet another Japanese noodle that has traveled the world. However, this noodle is more challenging to find outside of Japan compared to Ramen, the country’s more prolific wheat noodle. Let’s face it, Ramen is practically everywhere.

Finding Udon in Japan is the opposite of a challenge. Introduced to Japan by China more than a millennium ago, Udon can be hot or cold and its preparations range from soups to curries.

Pro Tip
Don’t underestimate Udon despite its simple recipe with just water, salt and flour. These noodles are served in all kinds of dishes which can be quite exciting.

33. Pad See Ew (Thailand)

Pad See Ew at Bangkok Restaurant
Unlike Pad Thai, Pad See Ew has wide rice noodles similar to Chow Fun in China. We ate this plate of Pad See Ew in Bangkok.

Pad See Ew is the fourth and final noodle dish from Thailand on our list. Thai cooks quickly whip up Pad See Ew in woks all over the country at both at street stalls and in restaurants.

Discover 26 Thai food favorites.

Don’t be confused by Pad See Ew’s name which translates to soy sauce stir fry. Beyond light and dark soy sauces, other typical ingredients include garlic, protein (chicken, beef or pork), Chinese broccoli and cabbage.

Pro Tip
You won’t have to look hard to find Pad See Ew in Thailand. It’s a Thai street food favorite.

34. Pasta al Tartufo (Italy)

Pasta with Black Truffles in Savigno
This plate of Pasta al Tartufo at the Tartoflo Savigno Truffle Festival ruined us for all future plates. The truffles were that generous and that good.

Some pasta dishes are all about the noodles while others are more about the toppings. Food travelers who venture to Italy during the autumn can enjoy the best of both on the same plate in two special dishes. The first of these dishes is Pasta al Tartufo, i.e. Pasta with Truffles.

Watch our Truffle Hunt video on YouTube.

Coveted around the world due to their limited availability and unique earthy taste, black and white truffles naturally grow in Italy’s forests. While you can eat the subterranean ascomycete fungi in various ways including truffle oil, truffle honey and truffle salt, the ultimate experience is to eat truffles generously shaved over handmade pasta in Italy.

Pro Tip
Plan your Italy trip in the autumn to coincide with Italy’s truffle season.

35. Pasta ai Funghi Porcini (Italy)

Tortellini with Porcini Mushrooms at Trattoria Ai Due Platani in Parma
This serving off Tortellini with Porcini Mushrooms was a memorable pasta dish during our memorable meal at Trattoria Ai Due Platani in Parma.

Pasta ai Fungi Porcini is the second dish that pairs pasta and an elusive yet desirable partner – fresh porcini mushrooms. The dish is so tasty that we have an unwritten rule to order it whenever we see it on a menu in cities like Modena and Parma.

Read our Parma food guide.

While not everybody likes or can afford truffles, porcini is a more accessible member of the fungus family. Easy to find at markets and on restaurant menus in Italy during the late summer and into the autumn, porcini mushrooms are earthy, woodsy and downright delicious.

Pro Tip
Top your pasta with dried porcini when the mushroom is out of season.

36. Chicken Noodle Soup (USA)

Chicken Noodle Soup at Home
We cooked and ate this Chicken Noodle Soup at our house in Philadelphia. Not only did it taste good, but it also served as edible penicillin for our souls.

Name a country in the world and it probably has a version of chicken soup with noodles. While there are some differences, they all include the key ingredients of chicken broth and chicken pieces. Possible additions include items like carrots, celery, dumplings and rice.

Since we grew up in America as descendants of Eastern European immigrants, we ate a lot of Chicken Noodle Soup while growing up. We ate it for holidays and when we were sick. Sometime we ate it with matzo balls.

Pro Tip
You can buy canned Chicken Noodle Soup but the best version is the one you cook from scratch.

37. Wonton Noodle Soup (China)

Wonton Noodle Soup at Philadelphia Restaurant
We never tire of Wonton Noodle Soup. We slurped this bowl in Philadelphia after adding a healthy amount of chili sauce.

A staple in Cantonese cuisine, Wonton Noodle Soup is available at Chinese restaurants around the world. It’s a dish that proves that ‘more is more’ with its starch duo of noodles and meat-filled wontons.

We love Wonton Noodle Soup so much that we had our rehearsal dinner at a Philadelphia restaurant that specializes in this and other Hong Kong style dishes. Yes, we truly put our money where are mouths are when it comes to noodles and Chinese food.

Fun Fact
Wonton Noodle Soup has achieved cult status at noodle shops like Michelin-starred Ho Hung Kee in Hong Kong.

38. Pasta al Cartoccio (Italy)

Pasta al Cartoccio at Naples Restaurant
This serving of Linguine al Cartoccio was a Naples seafood festival for two. Luckily for us, we were the only two people at the festival.

It’s not clear if Pasta ai Cartoccio was invented in Naples. Other contenders for that honor include Abruzzo and the Amalfi Coast. Either way, what is clear is that eating this seafood noodle dish at least once is a must.

Read more about Neapolitan pasta.

Southern Italian chefs pull out the stops when it comes to preparing Cartoccio. Not only do they source a variety of seafood and combine it with pasta, oil and white wine, but they take the dish further by cooking it in parchment paper. The end result is a stunner.

Pro Tip
Expect frutti di mare like claims, mussels and shrimp when you eat Pasta ai Cartoccio in Naples.

39. Niu Rou Mian (Taiwan)

Yong-Kang Beef Noodle in Taipei
Taiwan’s Niú Ròu Miàn is nothing short of a meal in a bowl. Slurping this bowl was a highlight of our time in Taipei.

Travelers who journey to Taiwan might be happy to eat soup dumplings all day long and graze at street markets when the sun goes down. But that would be a shame since they’d be missing out on Niú Ròu Miàn, Taiwan’s version of beef noodle soup. We relate since we’re huge fans of both soup dumplings and street food.

Discover five tasty Taipei food experiences.

Wanting to eat it all during our whirlwind stop in Taipei, we rolled up our sleeves and dug into a big bowl of Niú Ròu Miàn at Yonk Kang, a local noodle shop institution. Filled with braised Australian beef, hand-drawn wheat noodles, savory broth, fresh herbs and Sichuan spices, this memorable Taiwanese noodle soup made us forget about soup dumplings for at least a few minutes.

Pro Tip
Feel free to wash down you Niú Ròu Miàn with Bubble Tea. The fun beverage is a Taiwanese taste sensation.

40. Spaghetti + Meatballs (USA)

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Traditional Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs

We couldn’t end this list without including Spaghetti and Meatballs. While Italians rarely, if ever, pair pasta and polpette (meatballs), Spaghetti and Meatballs is a childhood favorite for many Americans including these two big kids.

Pro Tip
Don’t expect to eat Spaghetti and Meatballs when you eat in Italy. It could happen but it probably won’t.

Whiie Americans didn’t invent either spaghetti or meatballs, Italian-Americans immigrants were the first to pair them together and add marina sauce called ‘gravy’ to the mix. The result is a comfort food that’s as popular today as it was a century ago.

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About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Chattan Kunjara

Saturday 20th of February 2021

Good story overall about your global noodle adventures. One correction, though. There is no lemongrass or kaffir lime in Thailand’s Pad Thai. Maybe you’re thinking of Tom Yum.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Thanks for your feedback!