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[whitespace] Cheap Eats

By Traci Vogel

California Noodle
1460 Halford Ave, Santa Clara
Daily 9am-10pm

YOU KIND OF have to feel sorry for Campbell's. It used to be that the cursive red brand name had an aluminum-strength hold on chicken soup and all that it meant to the American psyche: health, home and good eatin'.

Then America was introduced to pho. Granted, the Vietnamese soup is traditionally served with various cuts of beef, but the chicken version features prominently on the menus of most pho restaurants as well. Since I don't eat red meat, chicken pho happens to be my personal favorite.

A bowl of chicken pho served in the modest surrounds of California Noodle in Santa Clara recently reminded me why. California Noodle is housed in a strip mall, and the stark acoustics inside allowed a blaring television set, a nearby wailing infant and an arguing teenage couple all to be clearly heard--and yet, once the generous bowl of chicken pho was set before me, its fragrance rising steamily, I could have sworn I was alone in a velvet-lined theater box.

California Noodle's chicken pho is top notch, and comes with the usual accoutrements: limes, basil, bean sprouts and fresh chiles. The menu features 13 versions of the beef pho as well, including one with homemade meat balls, two seafood soups and a vegetarian version. The most expensive thing on the menu is $7.95.

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From the December 12-18, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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