Target 2: Noodle City
Pricing: $6.25-6.50, small bowl; $6.75-6.95, large bowl
Visit date: October 21th, 2009
Visit time: 7:00 PM
Jason’s ratings (#10 rare beef, well cooked beef, soft tendon) –
Other factors (service, atmosphere, etc): 7.5/10)
Jason’s total: 7.4/10
Thai’s ratings (#6 rare beef, well done flank, brisket, soft tendon, bible tripe, meatball) –
Other factors: 8/10
Thai’s total: 7.3/10
Total Score (averaged across both raters, all variables) = 7.35/10
Quality per dollar, based on deluxe (xe lua) pho = 1.06/$
Our enthusiasm girdled after a disappointing start to the phodown, Thai and I attempted to make things right at a more traditional Vietnamese restaurant, Noodle City. Although this Goleta institution serves several Chinese dishes, it is decidedly Vietnamese owned and operated. This fact hit home several times during our meal when Thai confided in me that the owner reminded him of his mom.
A minor jaunt from UCSB at the Fairview and Hollister intersection, I reckon Noodle City is a reasonable option for the student who wants to get out of IV but doesn’t want to wander too far from home. Anyone who has spent a lot of time in pho restaurants will also enjoy the familiarity of the tacky Vietnamese posters, faux marble tables, and the aforementioned irritable, but good-natured Vietnamese mother working the dining room. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have minded a nice fish tank or a wide screen TV playing Vietnamese soap operas to complete the milieu.
Overall, I found the pho experience at Noodle City to be rather middling, with plenty of positives but no shortage of qualifying negatives.Â For example, the aromatic broth sported an excellent blend of seasonings, but was betrayed by an overly salty, slightly artificial flavor.Â Thai claimed that it contained too much MSG.Â As his family is in the pho business and he regularly makes it at home, I had little ground to disagree.Â The beef was a similar story, fresh but too chewy, a factor attributable to poor butchering.Â I also found the amount of tendon far too small, while Thai had to request additional tripe as his deluxe pho contained almost none.
We both enjoyed a condiment selection that included both chili oil and paste, a rarity where I come from. A little bowl dispenser at the table was indispensable in allowing all kinds of dipping action. It was also a much appreciated upgrade from Pho Bistro. On the other hand, the curse of disposable wooden chopsticks haunted our every slurp.
The important thing to note when sizing up Noodle City is that in a national context, it is a pretty average pho. Of course, it doesn’t take a math major to tell that in this inchoate phodown, Noodle City is the best so far.
Address: 5869 Hollister Ave, Goleta
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-9pm
Thursday, October 22th, 2009
Tips?Â Email: firstname.lastname@example.org