San Francisco Garlic Noodles

In San Francisco, the Thanh Long restaurant is justifiably famous for their garlic noodles with crab. I had never tried to make them myself until I saw this recipe from J. Kenji López-Alt. This is not the same as the one in his cookbook, as I’ve adjusted it for what I personally like.

If you love garlic, try this. It’ll become a regular member of your cooking rotation because it has an enormous return-on-investment. The measurements for the sauce aren’t particularly sensitive and feel free to adjust to your personal tastes, as always.


  • 150-200g dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablepsoons butter
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) oyster sauce
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) Maggi seasoning (soy if you don’t have Maggi)
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) fish sauce
  • 30g (1 ounce) grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Thinly sliced scallions (optional)


  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions in unsalted water (the sauce is very salty; if using fresh noodles, cook them at the start of step 2). Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish and stir to combine.
  2. Using tongs, transfer the cooked noodles to the garlic sauce. Increase heat to high, add cheese and scallions, and stir and toss vigorously until the sauce is creamy and emulsified, about 30 seconds. If sauce looks too watery, let it keep reducing. If it looks greasy, splash some more pasta water into it and let it reemulsify. Serve immediately.