Bored with salads? Try cold Asian noodles for lunch.

5 great dishes to try in metro Atlanta
Sichuan noodles at Yummy Spicy
The cold Sichuan noodles at Yummy Spicy

Photograph by Ted Golden

I often find myself torn between eating big salads or Asian noodles for lunch. As fall and winter arrive, warm bowls of spicy noodles and broth will become more of a necessity than an option, but considering how long it actually takes for autumn to arrive in Atlanta (temperatures are predicted to be in the 80s for at least the next week), chilled noodles seem to be a more fitting option right now. The five Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese dishes below are on my permanent rotation.

Cold Sichuan noodles at Yummy Spicy
This side dish at the Buford Highway newcomer steals the show. Many places add way too much sugar to their cold noodle sauces, but the sauce at Yummy Spicy is vinegary and smokey with ground dried red chilies. Each strand gets a generous coating of the sauce that’s redolent with red chili oil that, when coupled with the tell-tale numb of Sichuan peppercorns, will leave your mouth buzzing. The julienned cucumbers and sesame seed help balance the fiery ma la sauce, but these noodles are best eaten with a side of dry-fried eggplant, excellent chopsticks skills, and plenty of napkins. 5164 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 770-680-5605

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Bi bim guksu at Jang Su Jang
Korean barbecue often gets all the attention, but cold Korean noodles are just as worthy of your plate. There are various types of chilled noodles in Korean cuisine, including one in a very cold beef broth with ice chips. My favorite noodle dish here, however, is the bi bim guksu. Instead of a chilled soup, the thin white wheat flour noodles are in more of a salad form. The sauce is made from gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), red pepper powder, garlic, sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil. The chilled noodles are tossed with shredded beef, mushrooms, and pickled cucumber to make a deceptively filling dish. 3645 Satellite Boulevard, Duluth, 678-475-9170

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Jjolmyeon at Yet Tuh
As one of Atlanta’s best Korean restaurants, Yet Tuh naturally has amazing cold noodles on its menu. My favorite dish here is the jjolmyeon, chewy opaque noodles covered in a tangy and spicy red sauce. The noodles are so chewy and long, one bite can seem to go on for an eternity. But if you are big on texture, you’ll love the tug-of-war between your teeth and chopsticks. Yet Tuh’s sauce is a little sweeter than otherss, but the spices, shredded cucumber, and boiled egg on top balance it out. And you also cannot go wrong with the grade-A banchan (complimentary side dishes) that Yet Tuh serves. This is a filling lunch that is light on meat and your wallet. 3042 Oakcliff Road, Doraville, 770-454-9292

Spicy cold noodles at Northern China Eatery
Looking for meat? Order the dan dan noodles instead, but for a vegetarian lunch, order these thin white spaghetti-like noodles, which arrive at your table covered in cucumber slivers and with a bowl of bright orange dressing on the side. Pour the sauce—a mixture of chili oil and creamy sesame paste—in and toss until the cucumbers have mixed in evenly with the noodles. Northern Chinese Eatery also makes unrivaled lionshead meatballs (as giant as the name suggests, made of pork, and served over cabbage) and has a wide variety of steamed, boiled, and pan-fried dumplings, which are a required addition to round out your meal. 5141 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-458-2282

Bún at Nam Phuong
If pho isn’t your thing or you just need a break from the popular noodle soup, give bún dishes a try. The Vietnamese dish is made using a base of cooked rice vermicelli noodles. Diners can choose from everything from shrimp to barbecued pork served on top of the noodles along with shredded lettuce; fresh mint and basil; ribbons of pickled carrots; cucumber; and ground peanuts. A funky, sweet, and tart nước chấm (dipping sauce) made with fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, arrives on the side—pour the sauce into the bowl and toss until each bite is covered. Most of the time, there are other condiments on the table you can use to customize your meal further, but why mess with something that’s already so perfect?4051 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 404-633-2400