- Alex Springer
Boy oh boy, am I glad it's not summer anymore. Gone are the long days of pummeling heat, sticky car seats and ice cream that melts way too fast. Yes, fall is officially upon us—a time of healing, hoodies and horror movies. It's also the time when I get to indulge in the wide array of ramen, pho and other noodle soups from the world of Asian cuisine. Sure, I try to enjoy this most beloved of food genres during the summer, but a bowl of hot soup just doesn't go down as easy when it's 100 degrees outside. I am starting this year's noodle soup binge, as I always do, with One More Noodle House (3370 S. State, Ste. N5, 801-906-8992, onemorenoodlehouse.com). It's the offbeat and cozy alternative to the myriad ramen joints that have recently opened, and it's one of my absolute favorites.
One More Noodle House is one of the oldest restaurants in the South Salt Lake Chinatown Market—where many an Asian restaurant has risen and fallen—and that should tell you about the quality of its food. While I have no problem with the usually sparse menus at most noodle joints around town, the sheer volume of options and combinations at One More keeps me hungry for more. Their chalkboard menu to the left of the cash register catalogues an epic poem's worth of noodle soup varieties. You can start recognizing a pattern after a few visits, but then your eyes will chance upon something like pork feet noodles which promptly sets your ass back at Square 1.
The dish that started my lengthy relationship with One More is the Numbing Spicy Beef Noodle ($11.98). I was in the area doing some research—otherwise known as eating—for an upcoming article. It was December, so I needed something toasty to warm me up after a day out in the cold. I was faced with a few options since the Chinatown Market is packed with tasty options, but something about a hot bowl of noodles, broth and veggies spoke to my chilled soul. I had just gone down the rabbit hole of Sichuan cooking where I learned about the Sichuan peppercorn, a trippy little spice that numbs your tongue as you eat. As this noodle soup was taken from the same page in the Sichuan cookbook, I decided to give it a whirl.
When I saw the steaming bowl of smoldering red broth make its way to my table, I immediately took note of the sheer size of the thing—they don't skimp on portion sizes here. There's a fun moment of recognition when you see the restaurant's name is proudly engraved on the rim of each ceramic bowl, but it's not long before your gaze lands on the contents of your soup. Cubes of tender beef hot tubbing with shredded cilantro, thinly sliced onions and cabbage in a rich broth with ripples of peppery crimson—it's simply a thing of beauty.
Your first slurp of this soup might surprise you since you're expecting that capsaicin wave to hit you right at the back of your throat—but it doesn't. The spice in this dish starts slow and builds with each bite. As soon as it feels like the heat levels are going to hit critical mass, the numbing effect kicks in. It's like being hypnotized—you are conscious of the deliciously spicy broth that you are shoveling into your mouth, but the heat ceases to bother you. It's an ingenious bit of culinary science as numbing your mouth to the heat levels lets you experience the nuanced flavors a bit more thoroughly. As far as broth goes, this had all the right notes, along with some that I had never tasted before. The noodles in the equation are equally important, and One More knows what they're doing. The house noodles are the best bet—they are made fresh onsite every day—but you can also get udon noodles, rice noodles, buckwheat noodles and flat noodles with any of their soups.
I find it hard to branch out from the Numbing Spicy Beef Noodle but have made the leap into other equally delicious offerings. The Braised Pork Noodle ($11.98) is full of sinfully tender cubed pork and a rich, flavorful broth, and the Sour Spicy Beef Noodle ($11.98) is a vibrant mix of acidic and smoky notes that wake those sinuses right up. Noodle soup fans in the mood for something a bit more traditional can also go for variations with tripe ($11.58) and pigs' feet ($11.58)—I'll get to those sooner or later.
I know our winters can be just as punishing as our summers, but the prospect of cold weather holds a bit less chill knowing that One More Noodle House is around. Cold weather has nothing on a giant bowl of hot broth and perfect noodles.