Noodle Bowl | Santa Rosa

$3 banh mi make this new Cambodian restaurant a hot spot

Noodle Bowl banh mi
Banh Mi from Noodle Bowl

Banh Mi from Noodle Bowl

“Asian Sandwich” doesn’t quite do justice to the $3 masterpiece before you. This meaty torpedo, filled with warm slices of barbecued pork, crunchy carrots, pickled daikon, mayonnaise, pate, cilantro and a sneaky slice of jalapeno was made by a true sandwich artist.

Nestled into a grilled Costeaux Bakery baguette, you will brave Santa Rosa’s afternoon traffic jams, give up your primo parking spot and maybe even drive across town for one of these tasty banh mi. It is that good.

The home of this little whopper is the unassuming Noodle Bowl (821 Russel Ave, Santa Rosa, 843-5256). Open just three weeks, owner Kong Eav is an eager Empire College tourism & hospitality grad who clearly did his homework when it comes to tasty pan-Asian eats.

Though the restaurant bills itself as Cambodian, the menu ranges from Vietnamese pho, banh mi and rice plates to Chinese chow fun, curry, steamed buns and egg rolls, Japanese family-style shabu shabu (meat and vegetables cooked at the table in a flavored broth) and Cambodian pan-fried crepes called banchev.

Nothing on the menu (aside from the family-sized shabu shabu) is over $10 and many dishes are under $5. The prices, however, aren’t reflected in nicely-appointed interior and friendly service. A delicious deal.

Noodle Bowl, 821 Russel Ave., Santa Rosa, 843-5256. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Limited delivery, as well as catering and party trays available.


40 thoughts on “Noodle Bowl | Santa Rosa

  1. I had bahn mi yesterday and the price is now $3.95 ea. Cheaper than the farmer’s market from the Malaysian stand @ $6.50 ea.

    1. Was there today and it is now $5.00! Not much meat, didn’t see any pate and the vegetables don’t seem to be pickled. But, overall ok.

  2. Coincidentally, the owner attended Empire College and took the Hospitality and Tourism course, he was my classmate. PS, the Orange Chicken there is AMAZING!

  3. I’ve eaten at Noodle Bowl weekly for the past three weeks and had excellent food and service each time. The first time my husband and I were in a hurrry running errands over our lunch break and ordered pork banh mi to go, woolfing them down in the car. They were delicious.

    The following week we took an Asian-food-snob friend of ours who was visiting from Hawaii for a sit down lunch. Between the three of us we had pho, banchev (a cross between a crepe and a thin omelet) stuffed with pork, a shrimp spring roll, a pork spring roll, and a BBQ pork and vermicelli plate. Our orders were taken promptly and the food delivered in a more than reasonable amount of time. We each loved every dish in our meal, especially the banchev. Everything was super fresh.

    Last week my husband and I went again, eating at the restaurant. Again the service was prompt and the food arrived in a reasonable amount of time. We split the pork banchev again, which was as good as the first time we had it. We ordered the delicious shrimp spring roll and a fabulous shrimp salad. Then we made a serious error and each ordered a steamed pork bun. They are HUGE!!! One would have been a meal in and of itself. It was stuffed with BBQ pork, pork sausage, and hard boiled egg. Seriously delicious. Our server told us the owner’s wife makes them fresh each morning.

    You cannot beat the prices of the delicious meals here. I had a laugh over the comment about Saigon Sandwich, which I visit frequently. The banh mi here are different, but equally good. Kinda like how everyone makes chili differently. Last time I had banh mi at Saigon Sandwich, I certainly paid more than $1. If you’re going to say that a $3 banh mi is “very overpriced” compared to a $1 or $2 banh mi, you are living in a seriously different banking system from mine, perhaps one that is not a base ten economy??? Or is there some kind of New Banh Mi math that I didn’t get in elementary school??? I’ll take a $3 filling and delicious sandwich any day. The fact that it’s here in Santa Rosa is icing on the cake.

  4. This restaurant is the worse ever, I ordered a dish with seafood, and to my surprise the meat was all processed, horrible. My husband ordered a dish and they brought him a different one, he was very upset. Plus, after we placed the order, we had to wait 52 minutes for our food to be served. Terrible food, terrible service. Never going back there, I do not recommend it.

  5. We tried the banh mi and shrimp eggrolls at the Noodle Bowl yesterday. Easy parking at 11:45 a.m. We were greeted by tasty aromas-a good sign. The place reminded us of many local eateries that we have frequented in Bangkok and other large Asian cities or towns. Spotlessly clean,with a good assortment of rice and noodles dishes,the banh mi,soup,etc.Service was pleasant and not too slow.I do suggest that folks add the hoisin sauce to their sandwiches.There are other tasy condiments,too.When we left,perhaps it was half-full.
    I loved that they translated the food into Spanish,although some of the translations were off(probably got them on Google).My favorite was calling the Chow Fun Noodles ‘Chow Diversion-which is FUN!
    A pleasant place,close to many offices and Kaiser.

  6. Went on a lunch break, the wait time and service was really slow- apprently people called in sick, but the food was delious. recomedation for take out, not thinking Ill try the dine in again though.

  7. Yep, the guy is running as fast as he can. That’s the excitement of a new place, so be prepared to be patient and try to come at off times. He was out of bread later on Thursday and instead of substituting a lesser version, he asked us to come back, which we did for the sandwich. I had some soup instead. There is plenty on the menu to try. The sandwich was very good and we will come back. He has hired a new girl but she is in training.

    If you don’t have the time to be patient, never go to any restaurant the first few weeks. I can tell you Fresh hasn’t really settled into an efficient routine for their deli either and I went there several times in the first two months. Maybe they’re better now, but I haven’t been going for a month. This place should settle down earlier than that.

  8. The curse of the PD review….I tried this place 2 weeks ago and it was alright….Then we went again today and of course after this article there was a line out the door….unused tables with full dirty dishes uncleaned….one waitress to do everything and people were walking out left and right…..Time to get more help before this ship sinks

    1. They definitely got overwhelmed by bite-clubbers at Friday lunch. There were four people waiting for take-out ahead of me (plus a room full of tables), all served by one woman. I only saw one guy in the kitchen area. Oddly, I got my sandwich (ham combo) first, which was doubtless less than thrilling for the people who had ordered 15 minutes before I did. So there’s some kinks in the ordering and preparation process that need to be worked out.

      But I though it was worth the (short in my case) wait. The sandwich was great and probably the best $3 lunch I’ve found in Santa Rosa. This will definitely be a regular stop for me, once they settle down a bit.

  9. I just went there for lunch with a co-worker. They are a little busy about 4 customer waited for their take out. We sat down and waited for 20 minutes before we got our food. The noodle soup is luke warm and though the flavour is good but the broth have way too much MSG. My first impression is not favorable. I’ll go back to Lee’s and their other store Anh Linh.

  10. Good on you for finding this, can’t wait to try it! And for the record, banh mi in San Jose can be readily found for $1.75 and $2 at the top places.

  11. Amazing how popular “Banh mi” caught on. I wonder if the sandwich chain like Quinoz and Subway are developing their own “Banh mi” which In Vietnamese simply means “bread” or “flour bun”. In VN they call it “Banh mi thit” translate to “bread with meat”.

  12. Banh Mi for $1-$2!? That’s silly talk. I frequent south Sacramento Stockton Blvd on occassion and all banh mi will run ya $2.50- $3.50. In SF they’re at least $3, and same with San Jose. Maybe back in the 90’s they were $2, not any longer! Hope this place starts selling fish amok!

  13. The Best three dollar Bahn mi? Absolutely not.

    For those fortunate enough to eat at Saigon Sandwiches in Sf would know, these are
    far from the best bahn mi. Very over priced (most banh mi run $1-2 dollars each), for the price they had better be the best Bahn Mi in Northern California. Food was barely ok, BBQ pork was the best. Service is non-existant, probably because of their new start.

    I would like to say I will try it again in six months when they get rolling, but marginal bahn mi is not worth it.

    1. Not sure if anyone cares what’s in SF. This is Santa Rosa. I’m not driving to SF to get a sandwich, no matter how good it is. Best Bahn mi in SR is good enough for me. And quibbling about a $3 price tag vs. a $2 price tag? I guess haters will hate.

    2. In which year did you find banh mi for $1-$2?

      In the past 2 years, I’ve enjoyed banh mi from San Diego to San Francisco and the average price has been between $3 and $4.

      And no, I don’t want to drive to San Francisco to get banh mi for $2.75 as opposed to $3.

  14. Went there for lunch today. Got there early and it’s a good thing I did, the place was packed by the time I left. Great wings, banh mi was delicious, and my two year old can now say “egg rolls!”

  15. Just checked it out. Waited for ten minutes without anyone acknowledging my presence. Saw lots of people sitting with blank stares and long-empty plates. Guess they are having growing pains. :/

    1. Yeah, it sounds like it. I just called their listed number (above) to see what time they closed tonight, and it rang about 20 times and was finally answered by a Fax machine.

      I still think I’ll go later on today; after the lunch rush hour, and probably before dinner prime time.

      1. They were NOT prepared. Felt sorry for the one guy trying to handle everyone. I like the $3 Banh Mi and Lee’s Noodle House around the corner better.

        1. Well, I arrived at 2:30 pm yesterday, and went to the counter for a few takeout sandwiches. The place was packed.

          The nice gentleman behind the counter asked me if I was there for the sandwiches (I must have not been the only one ;-). He informed me that they “ran out” but he would have more on Friday.

          Oh well. I’ll give it a shot next week.

  16. Thanks for the review. I can’t wait to try it. Probably this evening. I wonder how their Shabu-Shabu is?

    That sandwich looks delicious. I hope they have an all beef one.

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