Uncompromising dandan noodles add a whole lot of heat to L.A.'s Sawtelle Boulevard
L.A.'s foremost ramen shop has opened a spin-off restaurant that is aiming to become L.A.'s foremost dandan noodle shop.
1. Killer Noodle isn't playing around with spice levels.
Again, there are seven spice levels, from zero to six. Even if you're used to the mala numb of dandan noodles and other Szechuan dishes, even if you dip your chips in extra-hot habanero salsa, even if you can tolerate face-melting Thai food, we recommend you start at level three or four and work your way up or down. This is our friendly way of warning you.
Killer Noodle itself is uncompromising about the intent of the restaurant as a place where you slurp spicy and messy food. Below are actual sentences that we saw on the menu. (Note: All capitalization and pluralization are exactly as printed.)
"We DO NOT take responsibility for the food being too spicy."
"Our mottos is Spicy, Painful, tasty and spicy."
"Customers with sensibilities to spice should check with servers before ordering."
"Customers who require a bib, or face towel, please ask one of our employees."
"Please take care of your bottoms when you complete your meal."
We're not even sure what that last sentence is supposed to mean, but we're so happy it's there. The overall message is clear: Check yourself, because Killer Noodle isn't going to be responsible if you wreck yourself.
2. There are three kinds of dandan noodles, and they are all delicious.
You can order "Tokyo Style" with balanced notes of sesame and peanut butter, "Downtown Style" with a nice little vinegar tang or "Original Style" with tofu and garlic. All three styles are delicious, and what your favorite will be really depends on what you think dandan noodles should be. Our choice is the peppery "Original Style" with a deceptive clear broth that packs heat the way the best chile-laden Szechuan soups do.
Also, you can get each style either with soup or without. Which brings us to …
3. The combinations are pretty much endless.
It might take a while to determine your favorite bowl here, which is fine, given how good everything is. But let's just do the math: Seven spice levels multiplied by three styles multiplied by two ways to eat each style is 42 different bowls of dandan noodles. And that's before we get to what might be the craziest part …
4. You can put ramen toppings on your dandan noodles.
Seriously, add some char siu. The thin-sliced pork totally works over a bowl of spicy noodles. You can also add a poached egg or a cilantro garnish.
5. There are grind-your-own Szechuan peppercorns.
Seeing this at Killer Noodle was probably the moment we started to lose our minds. Why doesn't this exist everywhere?! Anyway, choose your own mala adventure, but remember that nothing that happens to you is the restaurant's fault.
6. You can order a $5 side of great ma po tofu.
You know what goes well with a reasonably priced $11 spicy noodle bowl with pork? A small $5 spicy rice bowl with pork. Come to mala. It's the best place to be.
7. Because the location offers all kinds of bang-bang possibilities.
Killer Noodle is on Sawtelle Boulevard, down the street from two Tsujita ramen restaurants, as well as good places for udon (the new Marugame Udon), pho (Nong La), soup dumplings (ROC), shabu-shabu (Mizu 212), Korean orange chicken (Korean Super) and a lot more Asian goodness. After eating at Killer Noodle, though, the logical next move is getting some shaved ice at Blockheads.
Killer Noodle, 2030 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, 424-293-0474