Despite wheat flour being the backbone of many noodle recipes, plenty of varieties exist that are created from other starches and flours. Here’s a sampling from around Atlanta restaurants. Note that, while these dishes feature noodles made without wheat flour, that doesn’t mean they’re allergen-free, as gluten still can be found in sauces.
Khao soi at Chai Yo Modern Thai
In northern Thailand, and across the border in Myanmar, you’ll find noodles made with egg and wheat flour, often cooked until crisp and delivered bathed in rich curries. At the upscale Buckhead Thai restaurant Chai Yo, however, a khao soi ped dish features noodles made from rice flour, and topped with braised duck leg, mustard greens and other vegetables, all served in a brothy yellow curry. Keep an eye out for a lobster tail-topped version that appears occasionally on chef DeeDee Niyomkul’s menu.
Chai Yo Modern Thai. 3050 Peachtreet St., Atlanta. 404-464-7980, chaiyoatl.com.
Soba at Tanaka
Despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat. The latter is a grass, and the source of most gluten concerns, while the former is a grain more closely related to rhubarb and sorrel. And, while buckwheat noodles appear around the globe, a prime example is Japanese soba. Tanaka, a sushi-and-noodle house, serves a dish known as tensoba: chewy noodles made from pressed buckwheat dough, served in a savory broth of soy sauce and dashi, topped with shrimp tempura.
Italian fare relies heavily on wheat flour, and that’s certainly the case at this Decatur restaurant, where chef Pat Pascarella and his team mill their own flour to create multiple pasta varieties. Always on the menu, though, is a dish of pappardelle — wide, flat noodles — made with chickpea flour. They don’t mill their own dried chickpeas, as grinding garbanzos requires certain equipment to prevent the flour from getting gummy, but the White Bull does make the pasta fresh every day. Served in a rich veal bolognese, and topped with cheese and herbs, it’s the rare wheat-free Italian dish that doesn’t rely on pre-packaged pastas.
The traditional Lao soup khao piek sen is a hearty meal, and a great way to start the day — it’s often served as breakfast in Laos. Thick, bouncy noodles made from tapioca starch and rice flour are cooked in a chicken broth, and the version here sticks to the basics. Garnished with shredded chicken, fresh scallions, crunchy bean sprouts, cilantro and fried garlic, it should be familiar to fans of chicken noodle soup, but with Southeast Asian flair.
For a dense, toothsome noodle that’s free of wheat flour, look to the cuisines of the Korean peninsula. Naengmyeon can be made from a variety of starches, including sweet potatoes or buckwheat flour, and is served cold. At So Kong Dong, a version of the noodle is made from arrowroot starch, and is served in one of two traditional preparations: mul naengmyeon (in a cold beef broth with vegetables and egg) and bibim naengmyeon (topped with vegetables and spicy gochujang sauce). Either can be topped with barbecued ribs.