Photos: Talyn Sherer
CY Noodles House
3370 S. State St., Ste. N5
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Driving down State Street in South Salt Lake, you can’t help but notice a traditional paifang, a large and colorful Chinese gate marking the entrance to Salt Lake’s Chinatown. This new-ish development houses Utah’s largest Asian supermarket as well as a strip mall of notable restaurants.
CY Noodles House opened in the summer of 2015 in Chinatown, offering diners something different in the shopping development. CY stands for Choose Your, as in Choose Your Noodles—a new concept in casual dining. The restaurant is small and cozy with a minimalist and modern feel. A small counter wraps around the open kitchen where you can watch noodles being made. Service is shockingly quick—customers can usually get food in the same amount of time that it takes to get through the lunch rush at Chipotle. The fast-food angle does not mean that the food isn’t top notch, though—CY Noodles House offers a short menu with an emphasis on quality and freshness. The wait staff is warm, polite and happy to answer questions about the menu.
Unlike the more traditional restaurants in Chinatown, their menu is concise. Simply pick your noodle and preparation, add a protein and vegetable, and wait for your noodle masterpiece. There are four ways to order noodles: soup ($9.25), Chow Mein ($10.75), Dan Dan ($9.25) and Seasoned Dry Noodles ($9.25). Although there are eight different noodles to choose from, I’ve been partial to the la mein, the only noodle made fresh in house. Biting into the la mein is extremely satisfying—it’s neither too thick nor too thin; a hefty, toothsome addition to each cooking method. Other interesting options include rice noodles, udon and ramen. Extra shrimp costs $1, extra noodles are $2 and extra meat costs $3.
Protein selections include Angus Beef and Spicy Angus Beef, which adds fiery notes and gratifying meaty characteristics to your dish. The firm tofu is less flavorful, but deftly soaks up the surrounding essence and adds a unique, squishy texture that I enjoy. The most surprising option is the mouth-watering Orange Chicken, which is sweet, savory and covered with a thin layer of crisp fried batter. I ordered this on a whim and was floored by how scrumptious it was. Other options include spicy ground pork, braised short rib, fried shrimp, fried chicken leg quarter and grilled chicken.
Vegetable add-ins are fresh and plentiful. The tender steamed broccoli is my favorite—I love the slightly bitter flavor and firm texture. The pak choy, a nutritious Chinese cabbage, imparts a mellow sweetness as well as a pretty green color. The other veggie options of napa cabbage, bean sprouts and lettuce don’t add a lot flavor, but they impart a crave-able crunch. You can order all five or opt out altogether.
My favorite soup combination is la mein noodles, tofu, broccoli, cabbage and sprouts steeped in a rich tomato broth. The tomato broth touts an incredibly deep flavor, which I’ve never tasted before—think of a silky Campbell’s tomato soup made with bone broth. Accented with the fresh greens and cubes of spongy tofu, this dish is filling, comforting and healthy. If you’re not into tomato, try the Hot and Sour or Traditional Broth.
The Chow Mein is prepared with your choice of noodle, stir-fried with green onions and eggs, then topped with a generous sprinkling of crunchy peanuts bits. My go-to Chow Mein is la mein with Orange Chicken and broccoli. This simple combination is phenomenal. The orange-glazed meat is beautifully balanced with the fresh steamed broccoli and peanuts—a melody of sugared, deep-fried meat and savory flavors. If you’re unsure what to order, keep this one in mind.
Traditionally, Dan Dan Noodles are spicy and full-flavored, with chili and garlic used liberally. The heat level varies on each visit, although most of the time, it’s well-seasoned with just enough spice to round out the competing tastes. Exercise caution when adding the Spicy Angus Beef to the Dan Dan Noodles—you might be in over your head. On the other end of the flavor spectrum, the Dry Seasoned Noodles come with a mellow brown sauce. It takes chili sauce or Sriracha to add zest to this dish—perhaps spicy beef or Orange Chicken would be a better accompaniment than the tame tofu I usually order.
To accompany your noodles, order the Shrimp and Scallion Dumplings ($7.50)—they’re a joy to eat. The dumplings are delicate and light, filled with a green paste made of fragrant scallions and shrimp, served with a hot chili sauce. The potstickers ($5.45) are just as good, filled with the perfect amount of ground pork. They pan fry the bottom of the tender dumpling, creating a delectable, crisp contrast in each bite.
CY Noodles House doesn’t have a liquor license, so I console myself with their dessert-like smoothies ($3.95) instead of sake. Green Tea is my favorite choice—I dig earthy flavors mingled with sweetness. Honey Citron Tea is another good option. For an extra 50 cents, add special popping boba pearls to your smoothie. At first, I was convinced that these boba pearls were actual blueberries—the flavor is so fresh and juicy! It’s a nice change of pace from thick, chewy tapioca boba.
Whether you’re looking for a quick spot for takeout or feel like lingering over multiple courses, CY Noodles House is your best bet for noodles in South Salt Lake.