Noodle X hits the spot with refreshing, spice-laden fareNoodle X, a smart-looking restaurant in the middle of the bustling Sinchon district, serves a variety of Asian favorites.
From Mongolian noodles to Korean spicy pork over steamed rice, diners can choose simple and inexpensive dishes from across the continent.
The most popular items are stir-fried Chinese noodles with black bean sauce (5,200 won or $4.25), steamed rice with black bean sauce (4,800 won) and Sachen-style noodles in a spicy chili broth (5,400 won).
It isn’t until perhaps the third bite of the Sachen-style noodles or the Japanese udon with chicken curry (6,200 won) that diners discover what the red “X” on the restaurant’s sign stands for: “Extremely spicy.” All of the main dishes are fiery, with the exception of the black-bean noodle and rice dishes.
“Why is the food so spicy?” someone asks. The manager grins and replies, “That’s the concept! We want to give you a truly unforgettable taste experience so you’ll actually miss the spices and keep coming back!”
At most restaurants, soup with Sachen-style noodles is cream-colored and spicy. But at Noodle X, it’s even hotter: a menacing red broth packed with shrimp, clams, mussels, mushrooms, onions, green onions and chili peppers.
The Japanese udon with chicken curry is topped with a piece of fried chicken breast. The noodles are plump and the chunks of potato and carrots in the spicy sauce are delicious.
Sure, both dishes are so pungent that they’re almost like taste bud torture. But many young Koreans don’t seem to mind at all.
Because Noodle X specializes in four-alarm fare, you might want to order a cool salad on the side (6,200 won), a tall glass of ice water or a soft drink (1,800 won).
To offset the heat, most of the Noodle X’s appetizers tend to be mild.
The vegetable samosas (3,000 won) and accompanying dipping sauce are a refreshing change of pace. The assorted dim sum (6,200 won) are light and tasty.
Noodle X ventures out of Asia for its appetizers and also offers baked potatoes topped with bacon bits, cheese and sour cream (3,000 won) and fried mozzarella cheese sticks.
After the meal, we suggest heading to a nearby ice cream parlor to quell any flames that might still be smoldering in your stomach.
by Ines Cho