Go Eat This Now: King of Noodles

From xiao long bao to QQ noodles, this below-ground space in the Central Sunset is a gem.

Shanghai soup dumplings. Photo by Ryan Basso

Beneath a bright rectangular sign on the corner of 18th Avenue and Irving Street is a very special restaurant. King of Noodles is a gem that shines in a neighborhood constantly misted with fog. Warm, savory fumes billow down the block as hand-pulled noodles and homemade soups wait to wrap around your soul like a blanket. The parlor-like space sits beneath street level, with banana-yellow walls and small tables scattered about the dining area. These fresh noodles and dumplings are all folded and pulled by a cook working nonstop in a small room filled with balls of dough and clouded with flour. It’s homey, to say the least.

Start with the Shanghai soup dumplings ($5.95), as they mustn’t be missed. Similar to those from Shanghai Dumpling King, another Sunset favorite that closed back in April 2018, the dumplings at King of Noodles are handmade, delicious little pouches of meat and broth. The thin, translucent skin bursts and an explosion of umami flavor will coat the entire inside surface of your mouth. Other xiao long bao can be flat and delicate, while King of Noodles’ have a coned, sac shape, making them the perfect appetizer to pop back before a big bowl of noodles.

For the entree, go for their bread-and-butter Chinese soups, with coils of beautiful, hand-pulled QQ noodles. Every soup has a clean, meaty broth with plump, thick, chewy noodles nested on the bottom. Whether it be dumplings, spicy beef, tendon, or tofu, all the soups come with plumes of bok choy and earthy wild mushrooms floating about the bowl. These soups are simple in preparation, allowing the beautiful noodles to take the center stage. The noodle’s texture and freshness are utterly addicting.

King of Noodles serves many Americanized Chinese favorites like beef pancakes, fried rice, and chow mein, but if you’re looking for what they do best, stick to the soups and dumplings. With so many amazing Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, especially in the Sunset and Richmond, it can be hard to pick a place. Pick King of Noodles. Restaurants like this are just a small reminder why San Francisco is such an amazing place to eat.

King of Noodles, 1639 Irving St., 415-566-8318 or kingofnoodlessanfrancisco.com

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