Food & Drink

Every Single Damn Dish You Need to Be Eating Instead of Pho

Updated On 11/28/2016 at 04:41PM EST Updated On 11/28/2016 at 04:41PM EST
pho
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Hey Seattle, guess what. There are other soups in town. And we get it: Pho is cheap, it’s on every block, and most of the city is convinced it’s the only cure for rainy days, winter colds, the plague, and probably most STIs. We’re not trying to take any of that away (maybe the STI thing), but Seattle’s brimming with other piping-hot and curative Asian soups -- some that are probably (gasp!) even better than the mediocre pho that blankets the city. Here’s where to find 'em.

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Hot pot

Little Sheep

Address and Info

International District

Somewhere between fondue and Korean barbecue is Chinese hot pot. Choose your own adventure by checking off all the meat, fish, vegetables, and noodles that you like from the menu, then dip 'em into the boiling cauldron of either spicy or mild broth on the table. The soup will not only cook the food, but also kill off any flu and clear any stuffed nose. But the best part? It’s all-you-can-eat.

Bun bo hue

Hoang Lan

Address and Info

Rainier Valley

The punch-in-the-face contrast to pho’s subtle tap on the shoulder, this traditional Vietnamese soup is bright (both in color and flavor). Unlike pho’s bantamweight toppings, this soup is loaded with pork hock, blood cake, and beef tendon, along with rice noodles, herbs, and vegetables on the side.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

Szechuan beef noodle soup

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

Address and Info

International District

Very much the opposite of the option-filled checklist-menu spots, this tiny joint offers only a few menu items, but it need not have any more: you want the signature dish, and you want it anytime you need a bowl of comfort in the form of big-flavored broth and thick, chewy noodles. Despite the implication of “Szechuan,” the heat is mild, leaning instead on richness and spices to pack a punch.

Build-your-own noodle bowl

King Noodle

Address and Info

International District

Forget Burger King, this is how you have it your way: you pick the broth, you pick the noodle, you pick the meat, and you pick the condiments. The options are not quite infinite, but you could eat here every day, all winter, and never have to repeat a soup -- and you could afford to do it, too, since each giant bowl costs less than $8.

Bun rieu

Rainier BBQ

Address and Info

Rainier Valley

While pho has taken over as the Vietnamese soup of choice in Seattle, in Vietnam, bun rieu -- crab soup -- is one of the top choices. Forget the heady meat-drunk rush of pho, this is all about the light shine of seafood -- a broth that highlights the crab paste used, overflowing with round rice noodles.

Miyabi 45th

100 garlic chicken karaage hot soba

Miyabi 45th

Address and Info

Wallingford

It’s easy to be distracted by the fancy truffle mushroom soba or the elegant raw oyster appetizers here, but for the ultimate in comfort and curing, don’t stray from the fried chicken soba. This hot broth with handmade (daily!) noodles in it comes with a kicker of layu chili oil and will surely beat the rainy day blues.

Guay tiow tom yum

Pestle Rock

Address and Info

Ballard

Thai cuisine is famous for its marriage of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty flavors, and this pork soup exemplifies that mix. High-quality ground pork and crispy pork belly bob about in the lemongrass-tinged broth, mingling in among the rice noodles. Peanuts and green beans provide crunch, and the sweetness is just enough to offset the spice that will help soothe any ailments.

Tempura udon soup

Modern Japanese

Address and Info

Phinney Ridge

This tiny Phinney Ridge cafe specializes in sushi and unique Japanese desserts, but when all you want is to listen to the rain pound on the corrugated plastic patio roof or watch it spill down the storefront windows, the tempura udon soup is the way to go. Big, snakey noodles will wiggle away from you in the light, simple broth, while the tempura shrimp somehow manage not to fall apart. Down it -- with a spoon or chopsticks -- and see why this hidden spot is worth fighting for one of the few tables.

Gourmet Noodle Bowl

Laksa curry noodle soup

Gourmet Noodle Bowl

Address and Info

International District

Bring a friend if you’re diving into this bathtub-sized bowl of spiced broth filled with a tangle of noodles, floating puffs of tofu, chicken, and eggs. The dish, which is Malaysian, is slightly out of place on the mostly Chinese menu, but there is a reason it’s there: the chef’s combination of chili, onions, spices, and coconut milk makes for one hell of a hearty lunch.

Sizzling rice soup

Chiang’s Gourmet Restaurant

Address and Info

Roosevelt

Rice Krispies may have actually stolen their snap, crackle, and pop from this Chinese soup. Aside from the usual delights of hot Chinese broth, the fun of having your soup talk to you cannot be underestimated. As the pre-cooked rice is dumped into the bowl tableside, it babbles noisily with promises of delicious and satisfying crunch. When was the last time your pho said anything to you? If it was “ever,” please see a doctor. 

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Naomi Tomky thinks finding the right noodle soup is the key to success in life. Follow her to what she's eating right now on Twitter @Gastrognome and Instagram @the_gastrognome.

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1. Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot 609 South Weller St., Seattle, WA 98104

Somewhere between fondue and Korean barbecue is Mongolian hot pot. Create your own meal by checking off the meat, fish, vegetables, and noodles you’re craving from the menu, then dip it into as boiling cauldron of either spicy or mild broth on the table. But the best part? It’s all-you-can-eat. The local outlets of this international chain spread out as far as the San Gabriel Valley and Torrance, California.

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2. Hoang Lan 7119 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Seattle, WA 98118 (Beacon Hill)

This hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese spot is known for bun bo hue, a spicy lemongrass broth soup with thick rice noodles, beef tendon, and pork in three different forms (as meatballs, blood cake, and knuckle). There's pho for the less adventurous soup slurper, and if neither of those speak to you, the mi quang will.

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3. Szechuan Noodle Bowl 420 8th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

Szechuan Noodle Bowl in Seattle’s International District is a solid stop for spicy comfort food. The affordable, cash-only spot offers standby dishes like soup with delicately wrapped wontons in a ginger-heavy broth, hand-pinched gyoza, scallion pancakes, and beef tendon noodle soup. With only eight tables, the restaurant fills up quickly with locals seeking to fulfill their Sichuanese cravings.

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4. King Noodle 615 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104

King Noodle’s customization option will make you feel like… a king. Pick your broth, pick your noodle, pick your meat, then pick your toppings -- and while the options are not infinite, you could eat here every day and never order the same thing twice. And for less than $10 per bowl, you could actually eat here every day and not break the bank. Start with an appetizer of chive & pork dumplings before moving on to your noodle soup (get the wontons).

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5. Rainier BBQ 6400 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Seattle, WA 98118

Don’t be fooled by the name: Rainier BBQ is not a barbecue restaurant. The Rainier Valley restaurant is one of Hillman City's stops for authentic Vietnamese, pho and otherwise. Ask for the secret menu, and open your mind (and mouth) to meat delicacies like alligator, deer, rabbit, and python. The restaurant is small, the menu is vast, and the wait is always worth it (but if you don’t feel like waiting, grab a banh mi from the deli next door).

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6. Miyabi 45th 2208 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103 (Wallingford)

Formerly known as Soma, Miyabi 45th is Wallingford’s hole-in-the-wall joint for modern Japanese food. While the focal point of the menu is no longer Soma’s famous soba, it still reps the toothsome, buckwheat noodles, hot or cold (try the braised beef cheek soba bowl). Miyabi also offers sushi and sashimi, tempura, and unconventional items like uni shots (with quail egg, shiro ponzu, and wasabi), and foie gras tofu. If you find yourself craving Miyabi 45th’s sushi but can’t make it to Wallingford, stop by sister restaurant Miyabi Sushi in Southcenter and Tacoma.

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7. Pestle Rock 2305 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

Thai food in Seattle was once only for takeout and holes in the wall, but luckily this Northern Thai restaurant boasts true culinary skill, offering high-quality meats made into specialty sausages and seafood afloat in spicy broths. Try the guac tow tom yum: Thai cuisine is famous for its marriage of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty flavors, and this pork soup exemplifies the best of it.

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8. Modern Japanese Cuisine 6108 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

This tiny Phinney Ridge cafe specializes in sushi and unique Japanese desserts, but when all you want is to listen to the rain pound on the corrugated plastic patio roof or watch it spill down the storefront windows, the tempura udon soup is the way to go. Other traditional and untraditional offerings include soufflé chocolate, beef curry, and strawberry pannacotta.

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9. Gourmet Noodle Bowl 707 8th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

Two words: hot pot. Four more words: all you can eat. Gourmet Noodle Bowl is one of Chinatown’s hottest spots for all-you-can-eat hot pot, and at a reasonable price to boot. Start with pot stickers, pork buns, or a noodle dish like chow mein, then move on to the hot pot, which comes with your choice of broth for dipping a variety of meat cuts and vegetables, flat Taiwanese-style noodles, garlic, cilantro, scallions, peanut paste, and more on the side. Slurp on, Seattle.

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10. Chiang's Gourmet 7845 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

Chiang's exterior doesn't amount to much (its building was formerly a fast-food restaurant) and the interior resembles any average Westernized Chinese restaurant with bare walls, white tablecloths, and large, lazy Susan-equipped round tables, but the place is often packed with locals there for dim sum and family-style dinners. The long and winding menu features standout dishes like house-made Shanghai noodles, five-star chicken, and sizzling rice soup.

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