When we were brainstorming ideas for our January issue, thinking about what we crave this time of year and pontificating on what constitutes Seattle’s ultimate comfort food, it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion. When winter (OK, fall) comes to Seattle, we chase away the damp chill with giant, steaming bowls of noodles, especially pho (or, P-H-O—each letter sounded out—as my kids have called it since they were toddlers, and how it will forever be known in our household. Our standing order: a veggie P-H-O with extra noodles and chicken added).
When Seattle goes out for noodles, we have an entire neighborhood (Chinatown–International District) of options at our fingertips—plus, plenty more Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Filipino options in neighborhoods all around town. And, recently, our city’s newest talented pasta makers (Cuoco, Rione XIII, Il Corvo and others) have been ramping up their kitchens, fueling a veritable pasta revival.
Working on this issue’s noodle story also gave me an excuse to get some questions answered. For years I’ve shopped at Uwajimaya, where I buy exotic brands of rice, sushi and veggies, along with (at Kinokuniya Bookstore next door) cool pens, notebooks and—I will not lie—Japanese candy and boxes of Pocky. But I always take a walk down the dry noodle aisle, wishing I knew what to do with all the wonderfully interesting-looking noodles in cellophane packages. When I was looking for a writer to concoct noodle recipes for people who know their way around a kitchen (i.e., the handful-of-this-and-that type of recipe you tack to your fridge and whip up on a weeknight), I was thrilled that local writer Jess Thomson was up to the challenge. When we met at Uwajimaya in September with the store’s grocery-buying team to learn more about their noodle selection, I had no idea there are actually four noodle aisles in the store, including the refrigerated and frozen sections. So much for that no-carb thing, right? But there’s even a noodle for that! Back toward Uwajimaya’s seafood section is a case of yam- or tofu-based shirataki noodles, nicknamed the “Dr. Oz noodles” for his promotion of their zero-carb, zero-calorie health virtues.
You’ll find Jess’ recipes [online now]; we’d love to hear how you put your own spin on them. But if you’re not in the mood to cook, food editor Allison Austin Scheff handpicked her favorite noodle dishes found at local restaurants.
So dine out, order in, or stir-fry, and settle in to Seattle, version 2013. Last November’s election ushered in bold changes for our state, from the passage of the same-sex marriage act to legalizing marijuana—changes that illustrate what we love about Seattle: that everyone is welcome here. And that’s as constant and comforting as a hot bowl of noodles.
P.S. This month, Seattle mag debuts a new, locally developed app (the brainchild of former Seattle mag publisher Melissa Coffman) that lets you share what you’re reading in print online with your iPhone (with an Android version to come). Read on for more details.