Whether you’re a chopsticks person or a fork-and-spoon eater, these bowlfuls of noodle goodness are too delicious to miss.
Ramen, pho, pad Thai, sizzling stir fries and soba noodles bobbing in a fragrant broth – food doesn’t come much more delicious and life-affirming than a big old pile of noodles. Lucky you – Leeds is awash with places to eat them, from authentic Thai, Japanese and Chinese eateries to modern takes on the noodle classics. No one cares if you slurp or if you get some broth down your front, it all comes with the tasty territory.
Thai Aroy Dee
What makes Thai Aroy Dee so special is not just that it serves up stellar noodles, but that it does so at such a keen price. With a set menu of two courses for £7.95 that runs from midday to 5pm daily, and a normal menu that’s still bargainous beyond belief, you can get your noodle fix for less. The pad Thai is reliably excellent, but wander a bit further along the menu and you’ll find drunken stir-fried noodles with beef and basil, or prawns with glass noodles in a suki sauce.
Thai Aroy Dee, 120-122 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
With two Leeds restaurants to choose from, plus eat-in or takeaway options, My Thai is the ideal place for a freshly-prepared Thai meal with friends or a quick but oh-so-tasty lunch at your desk. Your pals will be salivating with jealousy as you tuck into pad kee mow – rice noodles with spring cabbage and carrots – or a soul-warming duck noodle soup. The pad Thai is exemplary and there’s a wonderful blend of textures to the chiang mai kow soi – yellow noodles with yellow curry, vegetables and a topping of crispy noodles.
My Thai, 43 Wade Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ & 26 York Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2EY.
They’ve conjured up the lively, colourful atmosphere of a Bangkok street market in Zaap Thai, with vibrant hues and countless trinkets among the tuk-tuks, shop signs and more. It’s also one of the most enjoyable noodle bars in Leeds, with a menu that carries both the classics and some unusual treats. Push the boat out with the guay jab sa tan fat, a mix of rice noodles with pork liver, crispy belly pork, egg and soup. As well as the standards such as chicken, beef, pork, prawns and tofu, you can also try their tasty noodles with stewed duck.
Zaap Thai, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Banh & Mee
Follow your nose to Banh & Mee in Kirkgate Market. The scents of lemongrass, coriander and softly bubbling broth will guide you to this Vietnamese cracker. As tempting as the bao buns and bánh mì sandwiches are, the noodles are a joy to eat. The bone broth is simmered long for a rich, deep flavour, the noodles buoyant within it, topped off with fiery chillies and herbs. The Saigon noodles are deep-fried, paired with chicken, tofu or pork, adorned with a Viet salad. The tastes are bold and life-affirming.
Banh & Mee, Leeds Kirkgate Market, 34 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7HY.
One of the finest Thai restaurants in Leeds, Sukhothai does a gorgeous line in noodles. As well as a wonderful pad Thai and pad Thai pak, their veggie version, their real showstopper dish is the Pad Thai Sukhothai. Rice noodles are stir fried with carrot, spring onions, tofu and ground peanuts, topped off with butterflied jumbo king prawns and dramatically served in an egg nest. If you like things spicy, the pad kee mao is a flavour-bomb of noodles with garlic, chilli, basil, peppers, mushroom and bamboo shoots.
Sukhothai, 15 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5QS.
Senbon Sakura is a perfectly petite Japanese restaurant that serves up steaming bowls of some of the best noodles in Leeds. The large and varied menu carries such delights as Japanese wok noodles, stir-fried with your choice of chicken, beef or king prawn – or even all three together. You also get to choose whether you have soba or udon. There’s even more choice when it comes to the ramen or soup noodles. Select your main ingredient, the noodle and the broth – maybe teriyaki chicken with soba noodles and pork bone broth? Have it your way, have it any way.
Senbon Sakura, 71 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3BR.
Chaophraya has more than a touch of glamour about it, a good-looking restaurant that does its best to transport you to Thailand but at the heart of Leeds. Their pad Thai is a certified winner, the combo of rice noodles, stir-fried vegetables, crushed peanuts, chilli, lime, egg and sweet tamarind sauce already a whirlwind of tastes before you even add the belly pork, prawns or chicken. Don’t miss the pad mee moo daeng either, a hearty dish of roast barbecue pork egg noodles with the crunch of beansprouts and carrots.
Chaophraya, 20A Blayds Court, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4AG.
As you’d expect from a place with ‘noodles’ in the name, the slurpable things are damn fine here. Mi’s takes you through the staples of the Yunnan province cookbook, which means you’ll know some dishes and others you won’t. The stir-fried noodle favourites include teriyaki mixed seafood and beef with black pepper, while you can create your own soup with a choice of vermicelli, ramen or udon and various proteins and bases. Fancy something new? How about marinated pig shin or pig intestine with pickle beans?
Mi’s Noodles, Merrion Centre, 21 Merrion Way, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8BT.
You’ll be glad to know that Noodle House isn’t actually built from noodles – they’re too busy serving them up into delicious bowls of food inside this unpretentious but hugely reliable Leeds noodle bar. Their trio of noodles – Chinese egg, ho fun and rice – are all made in-house, and can be enjoyed in noodle soups starting at £5. Roast pork, duck, tripe, dumpling and shrimp & pork wonton are among the toppings. The stir-fry noodles aren’t to be sniffed at either, such as Fried Ho Fun with beef.
Noodle House, 20 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
House of Fu
Ox Club’s sister venue House of Fu proved an instant hit when it launched in 2021. Chef Ben Iley has created a menu of roaringly-good ramen that goes big on flavour. The Original Fu Ramen is a soothing cauldron of long-simmered pork broth, BBQ chashu pork, spring onion, egg, nori and toasted rye noodles, dressed with a shimmering burnt garlic oil. There are a brace of vegan ramen, both based on an umami-packed miso and shiitake broth. Add in some extra toppings while you’re at it – the half ramen egg is essential.
House of Fu, 15-19 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
Nam Song Caphe
Pho is the must-have dish at this cool and colourful Vietnamese cafe. Take your pick from either a vegan or chicken broth, laden with rice noodles, beansprouts, Thai basil, mint, chillies, spring onions, coriander and nuoc cham seasoning. Every ladleful is a riot of fresh, vibrant flavour. You can then add chicken, beef, ginger tofu, portobello mushrooms or prawns, and garnish with crispy shallots and pak choi. Even fresher tasting are the bun salads, with a base of vermicelli noodles, herbs and vegetables with lemongrass chicken or Nam Song pork.
Nam Song Caphe, 57-59 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JD.
The menu at Viet Guy is packed to the rafters with authentic Vietnamese dishes, from Shaking Beef to zingy papaya salad, but how do the noodles stand up? The Bun Salad will prove this kitchen knows what its doing, vermicelli noodles with lemongrass, salad, vegetable, peanuts, crispy shallots and stir-fried marinated meat, from beef and chicken to seafood and roast duck. They offer stir-fried flat or egg noodles, a pho made with beef and chicken bones and a glorious hot and spicy noodle soup. Will you add rare steak or shrimp?
Viet Guy, 157-158 Lower Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6BG.
Leeds is blessed with many brilliant Chinese restaurants, and Home ticks all the key boxes for noodle lovers – authentic chow mein in a variety of styles. You can go for king prawns, beef, chicken, pork char sui or mixed veggies, and there’s a choice of noodle-types too. Do you fancy vermicelli or is udon more your thing? Double down on noodles with a starter of hearty chicken noodle soup, or add some texture and crunch to your choice of main with a side of crispy noodles.
Home Chinese, 7 Back Blenheim Terrace, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9HZ.
Fuji Hiro is a small but pretty place that was the first and original Japanese eatery in the city. Years later, this much-loved dining room is still going very strong. They offer noodles galore, from ramen soups to fried noodles. There’s more – udon or soba simply paired with tempura shrimp and vegetables. The yakisoba is a classic – you can opt for a spicy version – while the tonkotsu ramen is a perfect assembly of pork broth, lard, roast pork belly, egg and homemade noodles.
Fuji Hiro, 45 Wade Lane, Merrion Centre, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ.
Not all noodle restaurants are fine sit-down affairs where statues of Buddha overlook babbling fountains. No, sometimes what you need in your life is a bit of fast food that gets your tastebuds working overtime. Enter McNoodle King, a cheekily-named takeaway spot that never lets you down. Their noodle boxes start at £5.80, and you can go for a pad Thai with rice stick noodles and chicken, or the KT Noodle Box with flat rice noodles, Asian vegetables, roast pork, shrimp and egg. It may not look pretty, but it sure tastes good.
McNoodle King, New Market Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6BY.Cover image Copyright Leeds-List 2023 by Oliver Dixon Photography.