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Jan 16, 2006 08:07 PM

Pho at Santa Cruz Diner

  • m

I was wondering if anyone's tried the pho at the Santa Cruz Diner lately. I saw a post saying that it wasn't very good, but I'm wondering if it's gotten better since that post. I saw an ad on TV the other night, and it made me hungry (and intrigued).

I'm sad by the lack of good noodles in Santa Cruz. There are more Japanese restaurants than you can shake a stick at, but only Benten serves ramen. Unfortunately, it's only one type of ramen, not a decent portion, overpriced and doesn't have good flavor. (The best ramen I've ever had was in a mall in Waikiki.)

I haven't tried Xin yet, but I assume it'll also be a Californianized version of Asian food since it's related to O'Mei.

I usually get Wor Won Ton Noodle Soup at our neighborhood Chinese restaurant when I have a noodle fix and I'm not over the hill or in Sacramento, but it's not the same as a huge bowl of carbs.

Does anyone have any recommendations, or am I destined to just continue stopping in Milpitas on my way back to SC?


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  1. I don't think anyone has been courageous enough to venture in there for the pho. Go ahead, I double dare you to try it :)

    The soup noodles in town that I eat are Thai Noodle House on Mission on the WS, soups at Sawasdee (decent roast duck) in Soquel. These IMO are the only things close to the kind of noodle soups you get in SJ.

    I also occasionaly buy the pork and preserved vegetable soup at King Chwan. Xin bores me as does Charlie Hong Kong.

    Oh and Ramen Halu is only 40 min away. I went last week on the way to pick up someone at the airport. Very tasty ramen. And if you are in Milpitas you can't be that far from Gen Ramen in Fremont.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Nathan P.
      Midori in Santa Cruz

      After that vote of confidence for Santa Cruz Diner, I think I'd rather eat dim sum at Dynasty than try their pho. ;)

      I'll have to try Thai Noodle House. I've eaten other things at Sawasdee, but I'll have to give their soups a try.

      I won't go near Charlie Hong Kong, and you confirmed my suspicions about Xin. My sister recently moved close to Ramen Halu, so I finally got decent ramen without going to Sac. I'll have to visit her more often. :)

      1. re: Midori in Santa Cruz

        Yeah, a few of us here have been trying to find a sucke... er, an adventurous hound to venture into Dynasty for DIm SUm as well!

        None of the THai soups are world beaters, but they are OK and the places have garlic chile sauce, roast dry chile, and chile in vinegar to perk up modest broths which is nice.

        1. re: Nathan P.
          Midori in Santa Cruz

          I tried dim sum at Dynasty when they first opened. I was excited because it's in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, it was REALLY bad and overpriced. I saw that Red Lantern also has dim sum, but according to those on this board, it isn't very good. I try to go to dim sum when I'm in Sac or visiting friends in Oakland.

          I'm also wishing for some Korean food in the area. Emi's wasn't that good, but at least I could get bi bim bap. Too bad all of the Koreans in town think it's more profitable to open sushi restaurants (garlic in miso soup?).

          1. re: Midori in Santa Cruz

            You're right about Koreans owning sushi restaurants in this county. Imura in Watsonville is one of those places I hear, but it does have a small Korean side menu I'm told (I've never eaten there). Bi bim bap has been recommended by "chardgirl". Located on corner of Main and Green Valley Rd. in the strip mall w/ Nob Hill Foods.

        2. re: Midori in Santa Cruz

          I work near Thai noodle house and we go there constantly for the duck noodle soup. By far the best one with the wonton coming in a distant second. Thai Noodle is the best noodle soup available in santa cruz (I hadn't heard of Sawasdee though). Get the large for more vegetables. The rice vermiccilli is best with the yellow egg noodles also good.

          1. re: pashacat1

            Thanks for the rec. I tried their duck noodle soup at least two years ago and found it kind of greasy and unidimensional so haven't returned. I think it's time for a revisit though. Anything else you particularly like there?

            Sawasdee's duck noodle soup is not good w/ the broth having that bouillon flavoring, so I do not recommend it.

            1. re: Carb Lover

              I think the soups have gotten better. I pretty much don't get anything else there unless they have the thai samosa (that's right) appetizer special. The sauce that comes with it is great. At one point we were corrected by Ke (sp?), the gentleman that works there that the red chili sauce in the unlabeled squeeze bottle is the one to use instead of the red cock thai sauce.

      2. Along w/ Nathan, I hereby nominate you to be the guinea hound to try pho at SC Diner! I heard they can't even dish out decent diner food, so I'm not holding out hope for the pho. I haven't read actual tasting reports here, just speculations that it can't be very good. Who knows...maybe they have a Vietnamese cook in the back who can make a mean pho. Please report back if you try it.

        The noodle soup situation in SC isn't the best, I agree. I've had the ramen at Benten and Xin, and they weren't anything special. Can't compare to anything like Ramen Halu in San Jose. The pho ga last time at Charlie Hong Kong was horrible. I wasn't crazy about the duck noodle soup at Thai Noodle House the one time we went, but that was a long time ago and I'm open to revisiting. I'd like to try the noodle soups at Sawasdee, the Thai place in Soquel, since I do like their food. Aloha Island Grill has saimin, the Hawaiian version of ramen, but I haven't tried it yet.

        Have you tried Donbo Udon downtown? It's unfortunate that they don't actually specialize in udon given their name, and their handful of udon combos didn't grab me so I've been holding out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Carb Lover
          Noodle craver

          any idea where to get some good vietnamese noodle soup? or any noodle soup? I'm dying for some of this stuff!

          by the way, i read some good reviews for the SC Diner: boards/california/messages/28829.html

          1. re: Carb Lover

            Never tried the pho at SC diner but the diner food like ruebens etc. are good. Decent burgers, fries etc.

          2. n
            noodle craver

            i dont know of any places in SC, but if you've stopped in milpitas you might as well stop in san jose. I've had the best vietnamese noodle soups at this san jose location ever. very good prices too

            Da Lat Hu Tieu
            408 E. William St
            San Jose, CA 95112 408-294-6989 Downtown
            Between 9th & 10th

            1 Reply
            1. re: noodle craver

              Thanks for the tip. Will put that on my list. I am fond of the name since I was born in DaLat. I also had some of the best pho ga on a return trip to Vietnam.

            2. What a bunch of wosses, the diner is constantly getting many people, many times I have to wait to get in. The PHO for you slow ones is brought to you by the owners Vietnamese wife and is as good as what I got in Vietnam from most street vender's. Hong Kong Charlie has all organic food and has good unique tastes that can't be found anywhere else, the snob appeal isn't there so most won't like it.

              1. I went to the CS Diner last night with my wife, Cindy, on a whim because I've seen the different feedback and am desperate to find a decent Pho spot on this side of the hill. I ordered a spring roll, just to see what they are like, and we splurged and got an order of cheese fries to split....I know......I's the culinary version of being bi-polar ordering those 2 together. The spring roll was good. Nothing amazing, but it was fresh and had shrimp and chicken inside. The peanut dipping sauce was store bought...nuff said. The cheese fries were awesome. We were unaware the fries also came with 4-5 large pieces of bacon intertwined in the fries and cheese.....I'm from Ohio...we have a saying back there.....anything....and I mean anything is better when covered with bacon.
                Cindy got a French Dip with onion rings. Her order came out about 8 minutes before my Pho did, annoying, and so I had to have a bite of hers. It was decent. Just your standard Sysco (yes, the large food distributor) style pre cooked and pre sliced roast beef, but it was on a nice crunchy piece of french bread and had lots of cheese, so it's was hard to screw up.
                Finally, after much anticipation, the veggie plate came out. I saw several large pieces of Basil, some had large dark spots but they were easily cleaned up, a very healthy pile of bean sprouts and a nice small pile of diced jalapeño. OK, good start. But where the heck is my PHO?
                Ahhhh...there is the waiter now....BIG steaming bowl in hand. He sets it in front of me with little fan fare and I take the chop sticks and gaze into what I hope will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
                Wait....what the I seeing large flat no no.vermicelli.....vermicelli. SIGH...No biggie..I can look past it. They look ok. I'm sure they will taste fine. I start layering in my veggies. First the basil, then the sprouts, throw in some of the jalapeño, a squirt of lime juice and STIR.......dear can't be...They wouldn't...Would they?'s the exact same pre-cooked pre-sliced Sysco Foods roast beef. And to make matters worse all they have is the lame Srichacha sauce, no real chili sauce to be had. I made it half way through the bowl just because I was hungry and prospects were slim to find food elsewhere that night, but suffice to say that this was probably one of the bottom 5 Pho experiences of my life.
                Oh…And Charlie Hong Kong’s Pho, if it can even be called that, is good but nothing like traditional Pho. If you are a purest stay far away.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tygerhold

                  If you're a "purest", you should never consider "Charlie Hong Kong" but if you're looking for great food and a great go!