With temperatures dropping, it’s finally time to start slurping of the city’s finest cold-weather meals: Chinese noodle soup. There are hundreds of bowls to choose from: some with springy, hand-pulled noodles, others with thicker, irregular knife-cut strands; arriving topped with everything from spicy beef to fried eggs to bok choy to duck breast. Here’s a look at five of our favorite noodle soups in Manhattan, from the darkest corners of Chinatown to a Noho joint where you could bring a date. We’re sticking with Manhattan for today—there’s a whole other world in Flushing that we’ll tackle in a separate post.

Super Taste: Don’t come for the ambiance—there’s none whatsoever at this tiny Eldridge Street hole-in-the wall, but that shouldn’t deter you from your main mission: noodles. Fortunately for non-Chinese speakers, Super Taste has done a solid job of translating most of their wall-mounted menu, and while the English doesn’t always make perfect sense, you can get the gist of most things. Super Taste whips up both hand-pulled and knife-cut noodles, and they’re equally good and equally fresh. Most everything costs under  $6, and standouts include the beef in hot and spicy soup, a giant bowl of carbs in a fiery-red beef broth, smothered with chunks of beef and cilantro and peppers, and the pork bone soup, fully loaded with irregular hunks of pig and vibrant bok choy. Whatever meat you get, just be prepared for some bones, tendons and marrow—aka the best parts.
26 Eldridge Street // (212) 625-1198

Sheng Wang: Another Eldridge Street hole-in-the wall, this one subterranean as to scare off all but the most intrepid eaters. Do not be afraid! Deep within this Fujianese joint there lies quite possibly the best knife-cut noodles in the city—long and slippery, they’re cut to order and arrive swimming in a salty, pleasantly greasy beef broth. Get a bowl topped with thinly sliced beef, oh-so-slightly gelatinous, or the unusual homemade fish balls, which come stuffed with pork. Top your bowl with a spoonful of the funky pickled vegetables on each wooden table and a long squeeze of Sriracha. Bonus: add a fried egg for $.50 for maximum fat-kid pleasure.
27 Eldridge Street // (212) 925-0805

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Flickr user cherrypatter


Lan Zhou Hand-Pulled Noodle

: Sitting in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge on East Broadway, this fluorescent-lit dive makes a killer hand-pulled noodle, right in front of customers in the no-frills “dining room.” Prepare for your meal to be interrupted by the rhythmic slap-slap of the dough while the grim-faced noodle maestro twists and twirls the  blob into long, thin strands. The noodle soups come in a serviceable beef broth with the usual slew of toppings: beef tendons, pork chops, oxtail, etc; but the real treasure here is the dry noodle with spicy minced pork—a soupless bowl of toothsome noodles smothered in a savory gravy with ground pork and cucumber shavings. Bonus: the fried dumplings here are out-of-control good, pan-seared on one side and then left to steam, fantastic with a squeeze of the homemade garlic-soy sauce in repurposed Sriracha bottles on each table.
144 East Broadway // (212) 566-6933

Xi’an Famous Foods: This noodle paradise has grown from a stall in a Flushing basement mall to a successful mini chain in Manhattan, and with good reason. You won't find noodles like these anywhere else—the spicy cumin lamb soup arrives with a mountain of flat, wide "hand-ripped" noodles covered in tender chunks of cumin-laced lamb and springy bits of cilantro and red onion. It's a killer combo of textures and tastes, chewy and smooth mixing with spicy and soothing. Atmosphere-wise, the St. Mark’s and Chinatown locations are a step above the average bargain-basement noodle joint, with a fully translated menu and English-speaking staff. Things can get crowded, though, so plan to swing by for a quick bite, not a leisurely lunch. 
81 St Marks Place // (212) 786-2068; 88 East Broadway // (212) 786-2068; 67 Bayard Street // (212) 786-2068

Hung Ry: Want to take your date for some hand-pulled noodles but afraid they'll balk at the prospect of a dingy Chinatown basement? Hung Ry is here for you. This year-old Noho spot turns out excellent, made-to-order hand-pulled noodles from a Chinatown pro, but with organic, local ingredients subbing in for sketchy meat and refurbished-wood-and-low-light taking the place of bare walls with fluorescent lights. Sure, the prices are significantly higher, too ($14-22 per bowl), but the toppings—lobster, sunchokes, matsutake mushrooms—speak for themselves. Try the beef brisket with egg, Brazil bunts and Chinese broccoli for an updated take on a Chinatown favorite, or the lobster with chilled cucumber broth, pea shoots, tofu and English peas for something you'll never find at Super Taste.
55 Bond Street // (212) 677-4864