Unraveling the Magic of Vietnamese Garlic Noodles (Mì Xào Tỏi)

If you’re a fan of bold flavors and comforting noodle dishes, then Vietnamese Garlic Noodles (Mì Xào Tỏi) are about to become your new obsession. This fusion delicacy, born in the melting pot of San Francisco’s culinary scene, combines the rich heritage of Vietnamese cuisine with Italian pasta, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

What are Vietnamese Garlic Noodles?

Vietnamese Garlic Noodles, also known as Mì Xào Tỏi, are a delightful marriage of Vietnamese and Italian culinary influences. This dish consists of chewy egg noodles or pasta coated in a luscious garlic-infused sauce that packs a punch of umami flavor. The star ingredient? A generous helping of minced garlic sautéed in butter, creating an aromatic base that will tantalize your senses.

This dish was originally created by Chef Helene An, a Vietnamese immigrant who opened the renowned Thanh Long restaurant in San Francisco. Unsatisfied with the bland garlic spaghetti she tasted at an Italian restaurant, Chef An took matters into her own hands, infusing the dish with the vibrant flavors of her homeland, thus giving birth to the iconic Vietnamese Garlic Noodles.

Why You’ll Love This Dish

  • Flavor Explosion: The harmonious blend of garlic, butter, and a medley of savory sauces creates an unforgettable flavor profile that will leave you craving more.
  • Versatility: While delicious on its own, Vietnamese Garlic Noodles can be enjoyed as a side dish or a main course, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire.
  • Comfort Food Redefined: This dish epitomizes the essence of comfort food, with its rich, indulgent flavors and satisfying textures.
  • Quick and Easy: With just a few simple ingredients and minimal preparation time, you can whip up a batch of these noodles in a matter of minutes, making it an ideal weeknight meal or a crowd-pleasing dish for gatherings.


  • Noodles or Pasta: The foundation of this dish is a good quality egg noodle or spaghetti. Look for thick, chewy noodles like lo mein or linguine.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter adds richness and helps to create a velvety sauce.
  • Garlic: The star of the show! Generous amounts of minced garlic are essential for achieving that signature garlic flavor.
  • Oyster Sauce: This savory sauce adds depth and umami flavor to the dish.
  • Soy Sauce: A splash of soy sauce (or shoyu) contributes saltiness and enhances the overall flavor.
  • Fish Sauce: This quintessential Vietnamese ingredient lends a distinct savory note to the noodles.
  • Parmesan Cheese: A sprinkle of grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano adds a touch of creaminess and tanginess.
  • Green Onions (Scallions): Thinly sliced green onions provide a fresh, aromatic note and a pop of color.


  1. Prepare the Noodles: Cook the noodles or pasta according to the package instructions, making sure to salt the water generously. Drain and set aside.

  2. Sauté the Garlic: In a large skillet or wok, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned.

  3. Make the Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and a pinch of sugar (if desired).

  4. Combine and Toss: Add the cooked noodles to the garlic butter in the skillet. Pour in the prepared sauce and toss everything together until the noodles are evenly coated.

  5. Finish and Serve: Remove from heat and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and sliced green onions. Toss once more to incorporate the cheese and garnish. Serve hot and enjoy!

Variations and Tips

  • Protein Power: Transform these noodles into a heartier main dish by adding cooked shrimp, chicken, or beef.
  • Veggie Delight: Incorporate stir-fried vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, or mushrooms for added nutrition and texture.
  • Spice It Up: For a kick of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a drizzle of Sriracha sauce.
  • Vegan Option: Substitute the butter with vegan margarine or coconut oil, and omit the Parmesan cheese for a delicious vegan version.
  • Adjust Sauce Ratio: If you prefer a saucier dish, increase the amount of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce to your liking.
  • Garlic Lover’s Delight: For an extra garlicky punch, double or even triple the amount of garlic in the recipe.

Vietnamese Garlic Noodles are a culinary gem that perfectly encapsulates the fusion of flavors and cultures. With their bold garlic aroma, savory notes, and satisfying textures, these noodles are sure to become a staple in your kitchen. So, gather your ingredients, fire up your wok, and get ready to experience a taste of Vietnamese-American culinary magic!

Kenji’s Vietnamese American Garlic Noodles… With 20 Cloves of Garlic | NYT Cooking


Who made garlic noodles?

These noodles, adapted from the cookbook “The Wok” by J. Kenji López-Alt, and based on the noodle dish originally created and served by Helene An at San Francisco’s Thanh Long restaurant, are extraordinarily simple and delicious on their own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fancy them up a bit.

What culture is garlic noodles?

But Bay Area garlic noodle enthusiasts all seem to agree that the local take on the dish traces its origins to one of San Francisco’s very first Vietnamese restaurants: Thanh Long.

What are Kenji noodles?

Kenji’s Amazing 15-Minute Garlic Noodles are a creamy buttery garlic pasta dish that packs a ton of mouthwatering flavor everyone will love! Enjoy this quick recipe as a side dish or as the main meal!

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