Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jul 19, 2006 08:25 PM

suggestions for good SF noodle places without the MSG?


I'm looking for a reasonably-priced (less than $12) noodle restaurant in SF that does not use MSG. I get serious migraines from MSG, so I avoid it like the plague.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Not positive, but the pho ga (chicken noodle soup) at Turtle Tower (Geary or Larkin locations) tastes MSG-free to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I've asked them, and they said they don't use it.

    2. You can always hit up one of the soba places in Japantown. I also like this little Pho joint SOMA called Tu Lan. Julia Child used to hit it up when she was alive. I always love picturing her there. There is also some Korean noodle joint on Geary before the burger joint and after van ness.

      6 Replies
      1. re: The Blissful Glutton

        The dashi used for soba usually has some of the most MSG in it or is there a specific place in Japantown that doesn't use MSG?

        1. re: The Blissful Glutton

          I'm pretty sure MSG is widely used at the soba noodle places in Japan Town. Everytime I've gone and inquired if they use it, it's been a yes. This is at the places inside the "mall" area, not sure about others. It's used in the broth/stock, so hard to avoid. I've heard the Japanese MSG is a more natural form, derived more from seaweed, but it still makes me tired and thirsty.
          If Turtle Tower uses MSG I so don't want to know. Really, it would ruin the perfect comfort food for me. Their broth seems so light and balanced, it's hard to imagine.
          I Just called TT, and...they do. "Not a lot", but for shame. Strange, I've never had any adverse effects when I've eaten there, must be a psychological block on my part.

          1. re: rabaja

            MSG (a natural version of it) is in kelp so it's going to be in the dashi (and of course, the kelp) at any noodle place. The natural version is called glutamate and it's from that substance that chemical MSG was created.

            1. re: rabaja

              I've asked them at the Larkin location, and they said they don't use it! It's good to have this new information, because I, too, experience ill effects from MSG.
              I still love Turtle Tower pho ga.

            2. re: The Blissful Glutton

              Tu Lan uses MSG and it's overrated in my personal opinion.

              1. re: theSauce

                I agree, overrated. I also think MSG is underrated and delicious.

            3. MSG is really hard to avoid in noodle places. Even if they don't add MSG to the dish, the ingredients used may have MSG. For example, many brands of soy sauce has MSG. I don't really know of a place that guarantees that there will be no MSG in its food.

              1. Can't speak for all Asians, but myself and every one of my Asian friends take pains to avoid places that trumpet "No MSG". Asian food just isn't as savory when it's missing IMO.