Looking around the room, everyone was wiping their nose. At Killer Noodle on Sawtelle, diners seemed overwhelmed by the spiciness of the noodles (either that, or they were suffering from a cold). Brought to you by Tsujita, famed for their ramen, Killer Noodle allows you to customize, not only the spiciness level, but the numbness level of your dish, testing your limits.
Killer Noodle specializes in tan tan noodles, the Japanese version of Chinese dan dan noodles – a spicy Sichuan (is that redundant?) dish with ground pork, preserved vegetables, chili oil and scallions. The dining room takes its decorating cues from the menu, with red walls and a bar lined with jars of chilis and other spices. A pitcher of water adorns each table, ready to put out any fires.
You get a choice of three different styles – Tokyo, Downtown and Original – and can opt for with or without soup. From there, you select, on a scale of 0 to 6, numbness and spiciness level. They recommend starting with level 3, discouraging first time customers from attempting levels 5 or 6.
If you are a weakling like I am, set your numbness to zero and spiciness to 0 or 1 (I chose 1), and you should be fine. I was embarrassed to be ordering such a tame level, but the waitress admitted that it was the same way she ordered her noodles. I went for the Tokyo style version in a chicken/pork broth. The dish contained chili oil, sansho pepper, peanut butter, white sesame, Tokyo style vinegar, dried shrimp, cashews, pickle, green onions and a ball of minced pork. The noodles definitely had a nutty flavor, tasty mixed with the pork and the under currents of dried shrimp.
My husband, on the other hand, loves spicy food and was willing to set aside his pesco-vegetarian diet for a meal. He went with a numbness of 2, spiciness 3 for his Downtown noodles, no soup. Similar to the Tokyo, the Downtown noodles also contained peanut butter, but had more of a vinegary tang to it. The noodles, if ordered without soup, are thicker and chewier, making it easier for the sauce to cling onto. The spice level was just right for him, though he remarked anything stronger than a 2 for numbness would have incapacitated his mouth.
Rounding out the options is the Original Style Dan Dan Noodles, with ground pork, tofu, green onion, garlic, bean sprouts, cabbage, with chili pepper and black pepper. If you’re worried about splashing reddish sauce on yourself, go for the Original Style, or ask for a bib to protect your clothes.
Dan dan noodles are one of my favorites, so I was happy to find a restaurant near me that had them. If you like spicy food, you will love Killer Noodle (I knew the place was a winner when my husband started talking about his next visit, saying that it was worth sacrificing his pesco-vegetatian principles for another meal there). Next time, I’m going soupless (love those thick chewy noodles) and may even dare to kick it up to a 2.
Location – 2030 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles 90025
Website – http://www.killernoodle.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – No
Gluten-Free Options – Yes, they have rice bowls.