Kung Fu Noodle: Delectable Blow to the Taste Buds

After experiencing the house lo mein at Kung Fu Noodle, you’ll be ruined.

Once you take the first bite, you’ll regret all of those unremarkable times you ordered a noodle dish at other Asian restaurants. At Kung Fu Noodle, the noodles are the star, and they shine enough to stand alone.

The reason for their brilliance is simple: The Chinese noodle house makes all of its noodles in house, and the difference is remarkable. Each long, robust noodle almost tells its own story.

In addition to being cooked to a perfect al dente, there’s none of the clumped-together creations you’ll find at other places. Take the house lo mein ($9.98), piled high with julienned vegetables and plenty of chicken, pork, beef and a few jumbo shrimp.

Unfortunately, the meats that accompany the lo mein as well as many of the dishes don’t rise to the same level as the noodles. They’re adequate, but we experienced the most bliss among the dishes where meat didn’t play a starring role.

One prime example is the Chef Sauce Noodle ($8.98). A bowl full of noodles comes topped with a deep brown bean paste sauce. Julienned cucumbers take up one side, and bits of ground pork and scallions rest at the bottom. Mixing the ingredients together yields a savory dish that imparts just a little heat.

Wontons at Kung Fu Noodle (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

Wontons at Kung Fu Noodle (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

Because the dining area is relatively cozy in size, the dozen tables and booths in the room are situated fairly close to each other. It’s not cramped, but it’s cozy.

Kung Fu Noodle turns four years old in May. Formerly Asian Bistro, this place is a haven for people longing for food that reminds them of home as well as diners seeking a restaurant that strays a bit off the safe, commercialized path.

The noodle shop’s owner, Tiko Chen, was unavailable to speak because he was in China for a wedding.

If you want a standout starter, order the spicy pork wontons. Eight – although the menu said six – plump wontons sat on a layer of red chili sauce that delivered a pleasant punch of heat. Again, the silky noodles that covered the pork stole the show.

On our second trip to Kung Fu, we noticed Albert Yan busily slurping from a bowl of Spicy Interesting Noodles ($8.95). He said he usually eats at Kung Fu at least once a month. The University of Arizona student, who hails from China, said he feels at home when he enters.

“This is the only place where I can have my favorite foods and speak my language,” he said. “My friends and I like to eat here and hang out.”

Yan said he also is a fan of the Szechwan Chili Pig’s Ear ($5.95), which is marinated in chili sauce.

For those not willing to experiment with different dishes, the restaurant offers many standby options such as chicken fried rice and Kung Pao shrimp.

Just make sure any dish you order comes with some of Kung Fu’s noodles. You won’t regret it.

Kung Fu Noodle is located at 3122 N. Campbell Ave., Ste 100 and can be reached at (520) 881-7800. For more information, visit kungfunoodletucson.com.

Valerie Vinyard has written for newspapers and magazines for over 20 years, including a stint as a food writer and critic for the Arizona Daily Star. The Cleveland native has lived in Tucson more than 15 years, and still dines out daily.