This local holiday delight is kind of a two-fer. Number one: It involves eating out or, even better, takeout. And that means you don’t have to stress about making dinner and can focus on the rest of your list. And, two: It is exactly what you need in the cold, dry darkness. You don’t need turkey or sugar cookies. You need another flavor profile altogether. You need a giant, steaming bowl of noodle soup, preferably spicy enough to make you sweat. We live in a great soup town. Below, in no particular order, are six of my favorite bowls (add your favorites in the comments!).
1) Beef pho combo bowl at PhoNatik. Just today I had a delicious bowl, with a combo of oxtail, brisket and meatballs. I like PhoNatik pho for two reasons: The broth is clear with good flavor, and the bowls show up searingly hot. (Which, for the record, is really scary to eat with a handsy baby on your lap. But somehow we did it.)
2) Fresh-made ramen bowl at Kumagoro. Maybe it is nostalgia that makes me have a soft spot for Kumagoro. I have been making a trip to this restaurant on the coldest winter days to eat bowls of ramen since I was a little girl. This very old Japanese place downtown has new owners and offers chewy, fresh-made ramen noodles. If you need spice (you totally need spice) go for kimchi flavor. Or, if you need comfort, my childhood favorite, the miso bowl with extra seaweed.
3) Charlie’s Bakery shrimp wonton soup with noodles. This is like a great big hug in noodle soup form. Yummy shumai dumplings and a generous helping of noodles in a sesame broth. A total go-to for the sick. Dip your bites of noodles in a big well of hot Chinese mustard and it will cure anything.
4) Tempura udon bowl from Peter’s Sushi Spot. This is my son’s favorite. Pete’s waitresses are always so nice to him (he’s pretty squirrelly so that’s saying something). That might be part of it. There is something really delicious and comforting that happens to crisp tempura vegetables when you soak them in sweet, whiskey-colored udon broth. Udon noodles, fat and chewy, are also so slurpable. For a little spice, shake in some togarashi spice. (Sake optional.)
5) Thai Kitchen tom yum (ask for it spicy). Once again, if you’re sick, this soup will chase out the demons. Get a side of rice to cool the fire. And maybe some special eggplant tofu for good measure.
6) Pho Lena eastside’s veggie pho with tofu. Sometimes you just want to go light. Veggie pho can be a let-down, but not this bowl. Pho Lena, different from PhoNatik’s Vietnamese-influenced preparation, makes soup Lao-style. The chicken broth is star anise-flavored and sprinkled with fried garlic. The veggies are plentiful and fresh. I always add a little of their signature chile sauce for extra heat.