The Takeout's Fantasy Food Draft: Best Noodle And Pasta Dish

Welcome, dear readers, and welcome back to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.

Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week's draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.


The winner of last week's Takeout Draft: Best Pizza Topping, as voted by readers: Kevin Pang!

As we're in the midst of The Takeout's Asian Noodles Week, we're focusing this week's fantasy food draft on noodles and pasta dishes. We've inputted our names into a randomizer, which spat out this snake draft order:

  1. Kate Bernot
  2. Allison Shoemaker
  3. Kevin Pang

Kate Bernot: This is going to be an especially challenging draft for me because I really think I could live on noodles alone.

Allison Shoemaker: And I, per tradition, am famished

KB: For my first-round pick, I choose: Tonkotsu ramen

Kevin Pang: Well shit

KB: It's alchemy: the egg, the broth, the perfect noodles, the slippery-fatty succulence.

KP: God I love me some tonkotsu ramen, but it's definitely a once-a-month deal


KB: Oh for sure. In the dead of winter though, nothing better.

KP: I don't think I'll pick this but I'm a fan of its less-heavy but just-as-rich variant, the chicken paitan.

KB: Put it on the to-cook-in-the-Instant-Pot list

KP: I believe our own Ramen Lord may have a recipe soon...

KP: Allison, what's your first pick?

AS: I find this really daunting, I must say.

All the noodles in all the world.

Okay, I'm going to follow my sandwich strategy and speak from the heart

KP: A hot dog?


AS: Which means penne alla vodka

I love a vodka sauce, I love a sturdy noodle

KB: When I'm craving penne vodka, nothing else will do. It's so specific.

Also I like that you picked a noodle with booze in it.

AS: Naturally

KP: That someone first discovered vodka, cream, and tomatoes go together in a sauce is a miraculous discovery

AS: Right? That person is a hero.

It's comfort food that always makes me feel kind of fancy, which is the best alchemy

KP: It's my first time in the "snake position," so I'm delighted to have the next two picks:

My first pick: spaghetti carbonara

This is the dish I make more of/better than anything else in my cooking repertoire

KB: Putting the carb in carbonara (Now I'm sorry)

KP: Bacon, parmesan, eggs, my goodness. It's breakfast for dinner.


Perhaps my favorite recipe I've ever researched is learning spaghetti carbonara from Top Chef and Monteverde's Sarah Grueneberg.

And it's one of the first dishes I made to woo my now-wife 10 years ago

For my second round pick, gotta go pad Thai

KB: Damn, pad Thai would have been high on the list for me

AS: Same

KP: I've got a story coming tomorrow at The Takeout that will hopefully make you see Pad Thai in a much more considered, sophisticated way.

I remember eating it in Bangkok on my honeymoon, and like much of Thai food, the flavor/textural/sweet-sour variance was magical.

I wish everyone gets to try pad Thai in Thailand some time, as opposed to the overly sweet Americanized version.

KB: So The Takeout is flying me to Thailand? Amazing!

AS: My turn, and I am swooping in and taking pho!

KB: Great choice, also would have been up there on my list.

Snake drafts are a cruel mistress.

AS: So good when you're sick, but also when you're healthy, and all the in between times.

KP: I was most surprised to learn that in much of Vietnam, pho is essentially a breakfast dish.

Which I'd take any day over cereal

AS: Pho in the morning, pho in the evening, pho in suppertime

Like my weird broth-cereal combos!


So weird, so good.

KB: Okay, for my next pick, I will travel to Italy for spaghetti all'arrabbiata

Tomato tang, pasta chew, a little heat

Throw some good Parm on there

I prefer my tomato-based pasta sauces to have a little spice for sure

KP: Add a splash of fish sauce

It deepens that tomato flavor

KB: If there's one thing I've learned here, it's add fish sauce to everything.

Next pick, true to my heart: spaetzle

I've written about it here before but it really is a noodle people need in their arsenals.

Super hearty, perfect with beef stews

Straddling that line between noodle and dumpling

AS: Okay, good lord, let's see.

To hell with it, how can I not pick lasagna?

KB: 🙏

AS: Crispy bits galore, please

And loads and loads of cheese

I love making lasagna, too

Always makes me feel like a genius when it comes out well

KP: Speaking of dishes that come out well, for ease of cooking and deliciousness, I'm going with cold peanut noodles.

I struggled a lot with which Chinese noodle dish to choose—there's dandan noodles, zhajiangmian, even Singapore noodles—but cold noodles with peanut sauce (usually with tahini, soy, vinegar also) is so satisfying, especially on humid days. I had one in Beijing in the dead of summer and it was one of my most enjoyable food experiences.


I loved it so much I spent a few days developing a recipe for The Takeout.

And then on the opposite end of the spectrum is a dish I'm looking to make again once the weather cools—beef stroganoff

Beef + Noodles + Mushrooms + Cream + Gravy. C'mon?

KB: If only beef stroganoff wasn't bastardized by so many institutional cafeterias.

KP: That's why you gotta make your own

And in the Instant Pot (funny enough we've got a recipe for that coming soon!)

It comes out as Pot Roast Stroganoff

Meltingly tender

AS: Okay, so I'm lacking a spicy option

How about pad kee mao?

Spicy, sweet, and again, comforting

KB: I love the thickness of those noodles

Like a blanket of noodles

KP: And it has the benefit of the "Drunken Noodles" branding

AS: Yeah, a catchy name is nice

KB: Penne vodka should rebrand as drunken noodles

Alright, a nice follow-up to Allison's last pick, but I prefer khao soi

I really like lime acidity in noodle dishes, brightening up the curry

Little sweetness from the coconut

Checking all the boxes

For my last pick, I choose pappardelle ragu.

Again, those wide noodles, super comforting. And ragu is really a special sauce when it's good—rich meat, maybe some mushroom, red wine, savory levels sky-high.


AS: Dammit I am so hungry

KP: I know I'm bringing up cooking for my wife a second time, but on one of our earliest dates I made pappardelle on the pasta machine and cooked up lamb ragu

I guess noodles is how I court people

KB: That's because noodles are the way to the heart.

AS: I feel like I should be picking something really fancy or elegant, but instead I am torn between two more comfort food titans

And I already have a soup, so macaroni and cheese it is.

KB: Oh shit

How did we leave that on the table

AS: I'm shocked, frankly

KP: I briefly thought about it, I guess I don't have as long a history of being raised on mac & cheese

AS: I wasn't either, except for when I cooked it for my brother and I growing up

But my family are Midwesterners on one side, Southerners on the other

So I have had a lot of mac and cheeses in my day

And I love a good homemade rich M&C

But also Kraft!

A totally different experience but sometimes a perfect one, if you're in the right mood.

KB: Yeah, this is a dish where high and low both work

KP: To close out the draft, I'm gonna pull out a dish I hope more people learn more. I really think it can gain popularity on the level of pho or pad Thai. I know Kate picked khao soi, but I believe mine has a lot of interesting things happening to it: curry laksa


It's one of the great dishes of the Malaysian Peninsula, ubiquitous in Singapore

What makes it great isn't just the coconut milk soup, but everything else going on in there: Lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic, fish sauce. But it's also got fried tofu pouches, fish balls, shrimp.

It's Southeast Asia in one bowl.

AS: So hungry

KB: Me during this entire draft:

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