Dan Dan Noodles. The Little Kitchen Asian Cafe.

The Little Kitchen Asian Cafe. 24831 Del Prado Ave., Dana Point. 949.276.7799.

There’s a universality about meat and noodles. Every region has its own take on the variety, whether it’s a Bolognese or matriciana in Italy, a ragout in continental Europe, that weird gravy and noodles thing people “like” in Cincinnati, or dan dan noodles from the Sichuan province of China.

The latter is available at Dana Point’s fine strip mall find, The Little Kitchen. Pleasantly chewy udon noodles were topped with ground chicken, chili peppers and garlic, and tossed with freshly steamed bok choy, carrots and celery. The best bites are the ones in which the crunchy greens balance the thick noodles, while the spice base reigns in each bite.

The form is so widely replicated for a reason—stuffing your face with carbs and warm, savory meat sauces is easy. But the excellence of The Little Kitchen’s take on it is in the nuanced approach it takes to simple, balanced and fresh ingredients.—Matt Cortina

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