[San Jose] Kali Noodles and Tea Bar, hu tiu nam vang specialist

Newish place opened near downtown San Jose that specialises in hu tiu nam vang. Says so right on their sign outside the restaurant. I was worried before showing up that the name might signal watered down food, and fancier than necessary decor. It turned out to be a no frills noodle place with clean dining room and nice service. They have two main noodle offerings, the hu tiu nam vang, and the mon dac biet (beef stew noodle soup) and a few other starters.

Had H1, 2 of them in fact, one dry (broth on side), one wet. Both hu tiu thuong, the regular noodles. Dry was better, as the giant bowl came with a pretty intense broth at the bottom (just a little of them) that enhanced the flavor profile of the entire noodle once one had a chance to stir the noodles through the broth. The broth in the wet bowl seemed more diluted in comparison, since there were more of them. Noodle was perfectly al dente in both cases. Came also with a few quail eggs, sliced and ground pork, a shrimp and garnishes. The garnishes, fried garlic and celery added extra flavor dimensions to the noodle. Since I am a carb lover, I could use more noodles but no big deal. All their hu tieu options differ only by the types of noodles.

I liked the mon dac biet even better than the hu tiu nam vang. It had a mildly spicy curry broth along with beef cubes, tendons, carrots and garnishes. Yellow noodle was recommended. Came in a sizzling hot stone pot while the soup was bubbling. The tendon and the carrot soaked up all that curry goodness.

During the meal, a huge 20-30 person strong group came in to eat. Parking lot was pretty full by the time we left around 12:45p.

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What other hiu tiu nam vang and mon dac biet dishes do people like around the Bay Area?

Thanks for the review. I was unaware of this place. Hu tieu nam vang is not one of my favorite dishes but I enjoy it. The most well-known place I can think of is Nam Vang in East San Jose (2477 Alvin Ave San Jose, CA 95121)

Mon Dac Biet means specialty dishes so it might be more fitting to ask where people like to eat “bo kho” which is the beef stew with tendon and carrots you enjoyed. I like mine with a crusty baguette or with pho noodles. I haven’t eaten that dish from a restaurant in a while since I make it at home (using beef shank). Last time I had it out was from TK Noodle which was just average.

Yes indeed bo kho is what I was asking about- got my mon dac biet and bo kho all mixed up. I found myself a vietnamese food dictionary. Still its pretty challenging for me to remember…

How’s TK Noodle and New Tung Kee in general? They are everywhere. I ate once at the Mt View branch but haven’t been back.

I’d say they are hit and miss in general. The dishes themselves are good. They are Vietnamese trieu chau (teochew) dishes so perhaps a different take on traditional teochew dishes. The noodle soups include thin sliced pork, thin sliced chicken, minced pork, a regular meatball, a meatball with tendon, and two shrimp. They offer the option of additional won tons. The bowl is garnished with crispy fried pork lardons and sometimes a touch of fried garlic. Noodles are your choice of flat soft rice noodles or thin yellow egg noodles served in a pork broth. There are other dishes like fried radish cake, beef stew, duck noodles, etc. So the dishes themselves are good but I can’t vouch for the recipe and consistency of each place.

I recently had a bowl at New Tung Kee (or was it TK Noodle?) in Gilroy and enjoyed it. It was only $6.25. I like getting half rice noodle and half egg noodle for the textural and taste contrast.

I don’t really know the difference between them either. May be one is an offshoot to the other, perhaps family feud type of thing.

Here’s some background info about the original Tung Kee and the New Tung Kee branch off. The article is from 1996. Since then, some names have changed (Tung Kee --> TK Noodle and New Tung Kee --> “Luu’s Noodle” New Tung Kee).

Gilroy has one of each within a mile or two of each other. I just forget their respective names but the last bowl I had was the better of the two.

EDIT: It was TK Noodle.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo