A Noodle Whoring Weekend: Pho Ga Houng Que Cafe and Santouka Ramen
I'm continuing my quest to find insanely good noodles in the Bay Area. Recently I partook in a noodle centric weekend, and went to one new restaurant and one favorite noodle joint from Los Angeles that just opened in San Jose. Both places did not disappoint.
So far the only pho place that I had been to previous to Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe was Turtle Tower which has been hailed as the best pho in the region. Although it wasn't bad, it wasn't as good as what I was used to getting in LA. Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe has been on my radar for quite a while and it was time to check it out.
Below, the incredible (and I mean incredible) green onion ginger dipping sauce for the pho ga:
I had heard that Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe was better than Turtle Tower simply because of this sauce but overall I thought that the broth and noodles were far superior to Turtle Tower's. Also a plus is the rather varied choice of pho ga with different types of noodles and different cuts of chicken (boned or with bone, all white meat or a mix of white and dark, etc.)
I almost ordered this wonton soup with ho fun:
But instead I ordered boneless chicken (yes, yes, I know, I'm normally a bone person but I didn't want anything to interfere with my ability to get as much dipping sauce as possible; however, someone next to me ordered her chicken with bones and her dish looked really good) with ho fun. Next time though I'm going to try the pho ga with rice stick noodles.
Not only was the pho ga insanely good, but we averaged just over $7 person all inclusive (my iced Vietnamese coffee to-go almost cost half that amount). Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe is a noodle whore's paradise!
Those who know me know that I will whore for a big bowl of shio ramen from Santouka Ramen. The gods were watching over Bon V. when Santouka finally opened a store in the Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose.
Gratuitous photos of shio ramen with "special" pork (jowl meat):
Was the shio ramen as good as I remember? Yes, but the broth was slightly different, just a tad less rich. Also, the pork was sliced thinner in San Jose than in LA and the noodles seemed a bit thinner as well. Still, these differences did not hinder my enjoyment of my shio ramen. I was worried about what my fellow noodle whore, Noah, would think of the ramen since I had built it up so much, but by his exclamation (censored) when he first tasted it, I knew that he really liked it. Now, if only my other favorite, Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen, would come up here...
A sampling of yummy sides - rice bowl with salmon roe and chopped stewed pork, respectively - that you can get along with your ramen:
With the good sometimes you have to take the bad. Case in point: a spaghetti bun that I bought at a bakery in the same mall. Don't ask, I couldn't even bring myself to eat it.
Pho Ga Houng Que Cafe
1228 7th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94606
675 Saratoga Avenue
San Jose, CA 95129