Fort Worth’s Best Under-the-Radar Noodle Bars

Have you tried them all?

For some reason, winter weather always makes us crave Asian food. It seems a little counterintuitive, but theres just something about the comforting simplicity that calls to us. (Or maybe it’s the spice. Could be the spice.) In any case, with the new year already upon us – can you believe it? – sushi’s probably not going to cut it. That’s why we’ve put together this list of Fort Worth’s best off-the-beaten-path stops for steamy, spicy noodle soups.

Tu Hai

3909 E. Belknap St

No Website – Hours are 9 am – 8pm, Monday – Saturday

This family-owned and -run Vietnamese restaurant, sandwiched between not one but two check-cashing storefronts in a tiny strip mall in Haltom City, has been drawing patrons from around the metroplex since 1986. Justly famous for their Saigon pancakes, they also serve up some of the heartiest, most flavorful noodle soups in town. Check out their Bún Bò Huė, a mildly spicy noodle soup made with fresh noodles, steamy beef broth, and chunks of slow-stewed brisket. They also offer some of the freshest pho in town, and their wonton soup (believe it or not) is to die for. Maybe it has something to do with the flavorful crispy shallots, or it could be the handmade, non-doughy wontons. Or the house-made broth. Or… well, we’ll just have to let you decide for yourself.

Happy Bowl

8149 White Settlement Rd

No Website – Open 7 days, 11am – 9pm

Lately, it seems like everyone is raving about the newly opened Happy Bowl Too, and with good reason. Way more centrally located, the second location for the family behind Happy Bowl is a hugely welcome addition to the West 7th area. Still, we think we’ll always love the original more. This little-bitty restaurant in White Settlement offers some of the best curry in town, and you’d be a fool to pass up their specials. A true family restaurant, it’s not unusual to give your order to one of the owners, and then watch him walk into the back to to start cooking it for you. Just be careful when they ask about your spice level – if you say 5 on the 1-5 scale, you better mean it.

Little Saigon

1712 Mall Circle

The best thing about Little Saigon is the pho. The second best thing about Little Saigon is that the pho comes in small, medium, large and kids sizes. This means:

  1. there are great choices available for the whole family, and
  2. it’s possible to order pho here without feeling wasteful or guilty for also ordering a ton (and, in our case, we mean a ton) of different appetizers.

Actually, they’re great about modifictions in general. They can do it with extra vegetables, no vegetables, no noodles + extra veggies, meatballs and noodles only, or any other combination you can come up with. (It’s not that we’re picky, it’s that we tend to go with kids. Really. We promise.) Tucked away behind Ridgmar mall, this modest Vietnamese restaurant is a very welcome addition to the city’s Asian food scene. Honestly, it would be worth a drive, but it’s way-convenient location just makes it taste even better.

Hanabi Ramen and Izakaya

3204 Camp Bowie Blvd, #106

No website. Open Monday-Saturday, 11am-2:30pm, and 5pm-10pm, Open until 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

Located on Camp Bowie, next to the Great Outdoors sub shop, it would be a stretch to call this restaurant “off the beaten path”. We think it still counts though, simply by virtue of it’s new-ness. We’ve been waiting for an ultra-traditional ramen bar like this to come to Fort Worth for a long time, and we’re not going to miss an opportunity to talk it up. We love the Tonkotsu (a creamy pork ramen in bone broth) and the Kara Miso (a spicy dipping ramen), but with a whole menu devoted just to ramen, we’re pretty sure there’s something there for everyone.

Muang Lao Cuisine

5511 N Beach St, #180

Serving both Thai and Lao food, this hidden Haltom City gem is well worth getting out of the house for. They’ve got great curries and pho, but when the weather turns chilly, it’s the Tom Kra Gai we crave. This spicy chicken and mushroom soup is served in a thick coconut milk broth, season with cilantro. We like to order it extra extra spicy – and would also like to thank the people in our lives who drive across town and back, balancing containers of this soup on their knees, every time we get a head cold. You know who you are, and you are heroes.

Sam Won Garden

5201 McCart Ave #B

No website. Open Monday-Saturday, 11am-10pm, Sundays 5pm-10pm

If you want Korean, Sam Won is, to the best of our knowledge, the only game in town. It’s a good thing it’s delicious. Their extensive menu offers every kind of noodle soup and stew you can imagine for the solo diner, or the signature family-style “Chowdos” for group. You can grill your own galbi at the table if you want – and it is excellent – but it’s the spicy seafood and vegetable stew (Haemool Japtang Chigae) that keeps us coming back all winter. Well, that, and the free banchan (tiny bowls of different, surprising, and super delicious food that traditionally precede the meal).

Shinjuku Station

711 W. Magnolia Ave.

Ok, ok, ok. This restaurant is not off the beaten path, under the radar, or anything close. But it’s still making the list because it serves what is, quite simply, the best Japanese food in town. Plus, with it’s parent restaurant, Tokyo Cafe, under construction after a devastating fire earlier this year,  it’s the only place you can get the signature beef bowl has become practically a local dietary staple. (Again, we know it’s not a soup, but we and that bowl have a relationship, ok?) Anyway, this tiny izakaya serves up a world-class of both miso and shoyu ramen – available daily on their lunch menu, it’ served until 5pm, or they run out. They usually run out. If you haven’t tried it yet, run, don’t walk, over the Magnolia street restaurant and see for yourself.

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