Main Noodle House is No Joke

Main Noodle House

Amazingly we’ve never written about the food at Main Noodle House, located on 6th Ave (between 37th & 38th St.). We have no excuse for this – clearly they’re doing something right, as they do brisk business with both the tourist and business crowd, and even earned endorsement from and Gilt Taste’s food luminary, Francis Lam via Twitter. Such feedback is entirely justified by their cheap lunch combo specials and humongous portions.

It’s a fairly small, cramped space, and during the weekday lunch rush, you’re definitely looking at a 20-30 minute wait for a table. Customers waiting for take-out orders and for a dine-in table are mashed into a corner near the counter and front entrance, where they must dodge waitresses hurtling by, and customers entering and exiting the restaurant. But a little discomfort and a wait is more than worth the lunch deals here.

I opted for the roast duck ($7.50), which came with a choice of soup (egg drop, corn, or hot & sour) and a side of rice (white, brown, or fried). The service is abrupt, but ultra efficient – within 2 minutes of ordering, I had a piping hot bowl of soup plunked before me. Within a minute or so of finishing my soup, I had my main course. I had just enough time to case the dining room and gawk at the enormous portions that were being sent from the kitchen – colossal piles of General Tso’s chicken, burrito sized egg rolls, and noodle soups served in bowls the size of kitchen sinks.

hot and sour soup

I have a terrific and guilty fondness for hot and sour soup, and it’s my go-to order anytime a Chinese-American menu is put in front of me. I’ve tasted everything from wan and greasy interpretations to triumphantly hearty, spicy and chunky soups. The soup at Main Noodle House fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum – borderline good to great, with a generous strata of chunky vegetables and tofu swimming in a relatively tame broth. Order with confidence, but don’t expect anything amazing.

roast duck

Also order the roast duck with confidence. I was impressed to receive half of a chopped up roast duck – gloriously meaty and fatty, appropriately sweet, and redolent of Chinese five spice. It may not be on par with some of the better roast ducks I’ve tasted in Chinatown, but it’s easily the best I’ve ever tasted in Midtown, and the cheapest to boot. Served with a healthy mound of fried rice, and crunchy bok choy, the lunch combo is not only a fantastic deal, but a tasty one, and more than filling.

I know we’re a bit late to the game on Main Noodle House, but I’ll reiterate what Mr. Lam and all of the other fans of this place have been saying all along – “Main Noodle House is no joke. Really. No kidding.”  The toughest part is deciding what to order. Mr. Lam threw his support behind the Singapore noodles ($8.75)… what’s your go-to dish?

The + (What somebody who likes this would say)

  • The lunch combos are an incredible bargain – the portions are out of control, and the food is actually pretty tasty
  • The lunch specials menu is huge, with tons of variety. There’s something for everyone here
  • The service is ridiculously fast – your food will probably arrive within 5 minutes of ordering, or less

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • The wait during lunch rush can be very long, and very cramped
  • Given the cramped space, you may have to share a table with strangers
  • The food isn’t authentic Chinese, and it’s on the greasy side

Main Noodle House, 1011 6th Ave (between 37th and 38th St); (212) 869-0888


  • Wait? I’ve never had to wait more than 30 seconds to get a seat. Nor have I ever had to share with strangers. Then again, my lunch starts at 1, so YMMV.

    The noodle soup is not to be missed, period. At all. The Shanghai noodle is the best there is, and you can’t go wrong with the roast duck or roast pork. In fact, I think they’re gonna be my lunch today.

  • Walked by there a million times and there’s always been a wait. I’ll try calling for pickup one of these days.

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    What do you guys recommend besides pork or duck? Any good chicken, beef, or tofu dishes?

  • I LOVE the food here. My fave is Roast Pork Wonton Soup with cellophane noodles. I take the pork and wonton out of the massive bowl and put it on a plate to eat with chili oil and hot mustard and I eat the soup with baby bok choy separately. The port overcooks if you leave it soaking in the broth for very long.

    I’ve probably ordered this 200 times in the past few years. I know. I’m obsessed. But it’s good.

    One time there was a white string in my soup indistinguishable from the noodles. I pulled it out of my mouth. When I showed them they just said “Oh. That’s what the noodles are tied with”. They went on with their business. I kept eating and kept returning. I was undeterred.

    My biggest complaint is the spacing of the tables and the temperature in the place. I’m constantly getting bumped into and people’s stuff drags into my duck sauce. Nice, right?

    The service is quick but not relaxed. They drop the check as soon as you get your food. It helps to know what you want.

    In the winter, the place is frigging COLD> If you eat in, bring a coat.

  • A little late is an understatement, this place has been rocking for years and I love that it’s such a madhouse, if you want a relaxed Chinese meal go around the corner to Dong Hai, the former place to be until Main took over.

  • Hey Chris, I share your guilty pleasure for hot and sour soup. Any other good places for this in Midtown or otherwise? The only one I’ve found is Six Happiness on 38th and 2nd Ave., too far for work pick-up and it’s kinda hit or miss (glob of corn starch on the bottom).

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