Along the short 22nd Street corridor between Mission and Valencia, there has been a flurry of new culinary activity. We have a new pizza place (Gabriella’s), a new(ish) dim sum place (Pushcart Dim Sum Fare), a teeny breakfast place (Breakfast Little), and now World of Noodles and Banh Mi. World of Noodles has quite the variety of noodles, for sure, blurring the lines between Japan, Vietnam and China. They not only offer ramen, pho, and vermicelli, but they’ve also got rice dishes, dim sum, and banh mi. I’m always a little skeptical when a restaurant takes on too many different cuisines – you can’t be good at them all, can you? – but we thought we’d give our new neighbors a shot.
In furtherance of my ramen rating of late, I went with the chicken ramen:
The chicken broth was rather mild, but came with slices of very smoky and delicious pork belly, which partially made up for the soup’s lack of robustness. The noodles, unfortunately, came clumped together in the hot broth; they de-clumped after a bit, but that’s not what you want to see in a ramen bowl. Suffice to say, this isn’t making it into my top 10.
I also had an order of imperial rolls (called Vietnamese egg rolls here):
Although they looked like they were fried a little dark, these were quite tasty, and I’d get them again.
BF ordered his standard at any Vietnamese restaurant.
Grilled pork vermicelli, with the same crispy imperial rolls, but also with a healthy handful of crunchy fried shallots. I could snack on those shallots all by themselves! The pork was cooked perfectly, very flavorful, also smoky, and – most important to the BF — plentiful. There wasn’t a lot of vegetation in the bowl, however, which was a minus for me.
We split an order of nicely gingery pot stickers.
Yeah, we liked fried porky things.
The timing of our dishes was a bit odd. I got my pho before the imperial rolls, and then the BF’s vermicelli came and, at least 15 minutes later, the potstickers arrived. I thought they’d forgotten them, but the server said they just take longer to fry. Hmm. By the time they came out, we were pretty full, and ended up taking a lot of this home with us.
On our second visit, we split the grilled pork banh mi.
The bun came well-toasted, extra crunchy, and hot – that’s a rarity at a lot of banh mi places, so points for that. Again, we just loved the smokiness of the pork, and the veggies were crisp and fresh. While $7.00 isn’t a steal for banh mi, it’s not a crime against nature, either. It’s good to have a nearby fix in the neighborhood.
I also ordered a side of garlic noodles.
The noodles are listed accompanied by various protein options, but I just wanted a simple appetizer portion of garlicky, umami-rich, delicious noodz. Instead, they served me noodles with a few cursory sautéed veggies. Unfortunately, the noodles had that acrid, overcooked-garlic taste, and I didn’t finish them. I don’t remember ever not finishing Vietnamese garlic noodles.
For the finale, we got some dim sum.
Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and BBQ pork bao. I didn’t have high hopes for the soup dumplings, but they were actually pretty good for pre-fab, with a tasty broth, flavorful pork, and skins that weren’t inedibly thick. And they came with a little side of black vinegar, which made me happy, though no slivers of ginger.
The pork buns were… well, pork buns. I’ve never been much of a fan, but these were poofy enough and not terribly sweet. The BF adores them, and gave his stamp of approval on these. Again, timing was off in the dishes coming out, with these steamed offerings coming a bit after the other items. So again, we had leftovers to bring home with us.
World of Noodles also offers up a variety of different rolls, Asian salads, and desserts. While it probably won’t be our go-to for any of these cuisines, again, it’s good to have a reliable banh mi source close by.
World of Noodles & Banh Mi
3230 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94110