Pho's Saigon Noodle House is open; Newell Avenue's second Vietnamese noodle restaurant
Is it time for a Walnut Creek Vietnamese noodle shop smackdown? What with two Vietnamese noodle restaurants within about a block of each other?
Pho Saigon opened last week in the space in Newell Place that formerly housed Taxi's. It is part of a chain of Vietnamese noodle houses, and is named for the classic, casual Vietnamese dish, pho (pronounced "fuh"), which typically consists of white rice noodles served in a clear broth, along with variations of seasonings, vegetables, and meat.
Pho Saigon is a long time coming (I snapped this photo in July). A Yelp reader heaps praise on it, nearly a week following its grand opening last Thursday: "Woo hoo! Just what Walnut Creek needs, authentic Vietnamese food. ... The menu is extensive with pho, rice dishes and drinks. They served us chrysathemum tea and even had spicy bun hue. ...A little more expensive than your typical hole in the wall pho shop but worth it. Their " small bowl" is actually a large at most other restaurants.
However, another Yelp reader said: "This is exactly what Walnut Creek does not need. Although I don't like all of them, there are already plenty of Vietnamese restaurants across all different niches and pricepoints in Walnut Creek and based on my experience with Pho Saigon, I don't expect any of them to be worried."
One of those other Vietnamese restaurants is another noodle shop, R&J Noodle east on Newell Avenue in the Terrace Shops.
One reader on Yelp glowed about it: "I freaking love this place! The only bad thing I can say is that they are NEVER open! They have a great pork sandwich and their soup is incredible, my husband and I usually order both and end up taking home leftovers. The price point is totally reasonable for the amount of food they give you. I also like the owners, they are very friendly and hospitable...total mom and pop business, and I love that."
Other readers, however, were not so enthusiastic. "We've been here three times because we just can't shake that 'we really want this place to be good' feeling. The place seems like its family run, and the are really friendly. The prices are pretty typical of Walnut Creek, I would even say its better priced than most. Unfortunately the food is just kind of blah."
Well, dear Crazy readers, if you've been to either and want to submit your own reviews, please be my guest. I expect I'll be giving both a try in the next few weeks.