Noodle Palace | Santa Rosa

Strange. Pink. Awesome: Downscale Santa Rosa Vietnamese

Noodle Palace bun

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s most curious about Santa Rosa’s Noodle Palace: the Pepto pink exterior, lumpy parking lot, the hand-painted sign on plywood, trying to figure out where the door is, the untouched faux-cantina interior left over from Mi Rancho, or the fact that I never get exactly what I order.
Somehow they all add up to awesome.

Operating on a shoestring, these Pho Vietnam veterans have quickly won a neighborhood following with their idiosyncratic eatery. And it’s  welcome addition to the north end of Petaluma Hill Road —  a virtual restaurant wasteland (aside from Lola’s and a few taquerias).
Says BiteClubber Jim: “The food is typical Vietnamese/Asian noodle fare, cheap, fresh and tastes great; they are already proving very popular with the locals.”
The menu’s a combination of Vietnamese pho and bun, rice plates, egg rolls and spring rolls and off-menu additions like chow fun (wide noodles fried with vegetables and meat). So far, no bahn mi, but if enough folks start asking…
Beef Balls Pho

The vibe: Clean and friendly, with excellent barbecued beef and pork. Pho-eaters (which I am not) give the soup solid marks, though I can say from experience that beef balls are an acquired taste that I’m not planning on acquiring anytime soon. It’s a texture thing really. Beef add-ins include rare steak, tendon, tripe and brisket, along with seafood (crab, fish balls, squid, shrimp) and chicken.
Shrimp salad ($6.95)is a standout, with crisp lettuce, cilantro and spicy fish sauce. Bun (vermicelli noodles, $6.50 to $7.45) is remarkably similar to the versions at Pho Vietnam and Simply Vietnam — meaning lunchtime heaven, even if they did forget to put the egg rolls on mine. Chow fun is slick and slippery (as it should be) with tons of intriguing veggies and the perfect amount of gravy. Ask for it dry if you’re looking for a little more wok hai.
Shrimp salad

Devotees will cheer at finding soy bean milk, coconut juice, sweet red beans, and jellied tapioca in coconut milk on the menu. But fresh lemonade served in an ice cream glass? It’s part of the Noodle Palace experience: Unexpected. A little weird. Ultimately awesome.
*Bonus: Look for the hidden money in the walls. Don’t take it, cause that would be horrible. Just look around and you’ll find it.
Noodle Palace, 1310 Petaluma Hill Road, 528-1548. Open M-Sat 10:30am to 9:30pm; Sunday 10:30 am to 8:30pm.


16 thoughts on “Noodle Palace | Santa Rosa

  1. I used to love this place. We use to go all the time. Food was delicious, until we picked up food to go. When we got home and opened the bag a baby cockroach crawled out. Never went back. Huge disappointment.

  2. We went last week. One of our party had the chicken pho. He was the happiest. Lots of chicken. Another got pad thai. Ho hum. One got grilled chicken plate. No attempt to cut out the gristle. Not happy And the other person got rare beef and tripe pho. That was me. Let me say that I have had beef pho in San Jose for years at what must be one of the finest places ever known. I was introduced to it by many Asian friends. What makes pho so good is the broth. It is usually made with beef bones that simmer for almost a day, and has a depth of flavor that is unequaled. But the pho here tasted like beef cubes and water. No depth. And almost no beef! Maybe four or five teeny slices of a small flank steak. The plate of bean sprouts wasn’t very big either. All in all, it was THE WORST pho I have ever had.
    I really cannot recommend Noodle Palace. Sorry.

  3. I was driving by with my husband and thought that we would try something new in the neighborhood. We really miss Mi Rancho, and were not impressed with the other businesses that have failed in this location since Mi Rancho closed. I have to say that the paint is a little odd, but we forgot all about it when our dinner arrived! The service was fast, our food was fresh and hot – and we loved everything on our plates! My husband can be a picky eater but we have been back twice since our first visit… and he is trying new things on the menu each time – that might sound silly but it is a huge thing in our household. Very affordable and family friendly. We love Noodle Palace!

  4. Okay so let me see if I can spell it correctly…..
    What, exactly, is Banh mi?
    (Like, a blow by blow description, please……..)

    1. This is an old post about Lee’s Noodle House:
      BiteClubber, Christina asks:
      Since moving to Santa Rosa from the South Bay, my mom has been craaaaaving Vietnamese sandwiches (Bahn mi) like she used to get at a shop in San Jose. Musts include lean flavorful meat, a vegetarian option, lots of fresh vegetables, no heavy sauces – and fresh home-baked bread would be a huge plus. Do you or any of the Bite Club readership know of such a place here? Simply Vietnam does great Vietnamese, but sadly no Bahn mi. Thanks!
      If you’re not familiar with Bahn mi, then you should be. This delicious grab-no-go meal is simply a fresh baguette piled with pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, cucumber, hot chilies, sliced pork and some sort of mystery meat that you try not to think about too much (most often head cheese). Both sides of the bread are spread with a sweet mayo and fish or soy sauce.
      The crunchy veggies, soft bread and combination of meats makes for a sweet, salty, savory bit of heaven on a bun. Once you’re hooked you’ll never look at tuna salad or turkey on white the same again.
      Sadly, almost no one in the North Bay makes ‘em. BiteClub called several Vietnamese restaurants inquiring about these hearty ‘wiches that I remember from big city Vietnamese dives. One local restaurant owner told me they don’t serve them because they’re not cost-effective on a menu–frequently well under $5 in the South Bay. What?
      Undaunted, I did find them in Santa Rosa at Lee’s Noodle House. I’ve tried to keep this little Vietnamese pho gem under my chopsticks, but their recently-added Bahn mi were too good a sercret to keep.
      And apparently I wasn’t the only one asking. The owner says he only added the sandwiches to his menu after regulars kept pleading for them. Over and over.
      Best of all, at Lee’s, this lunchtime delight will set you back a mere $3. Shocking but true. Who’s the sandwich artist now?
      Lee’s Noodle House, 1010 Hopper Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.523.2358

  5. I’ve only been once but I’ll be back. I’m a HUGE fan of Simply Vietnam and Pho Vietnam (sigh — I miss the old Pho Vietnam location, next door) but this place is much more “authentic” — small menu, no frills, weird wall decorations. Both the egg rolls and spring rolls are the best in town, I think. Bun was top notch — going back this weekend to try the pho.

  6. Went back again today, and another error on the order. But no big deal. Service overall was much better today. Food was great. Love having this near by now. Will go back. I think they are doing more business in one night than the previous businss did in a month. The place was almost full on a Thursday night when we left.
    We shared the spring rolls with grilled pork and peanut sauce for apps. They were very good.
    I had the shrimp salad for dinner which I thought the portions were small, but the flavor was AWSOME!
    My wife had the Pho and she really liked it.

  7. I’ve had the beef pho, egg rolls and combo bun and all were great! It’s so great to have this place in the neighborhood!

  8. We went there last week. The service was okay, the food was also okay. I ordered Pho and asked for no steak and wanted just tripe and tendon and it came with steak as if she never heard me, or the chef never read the waiters notes. My wife’s dinner was also okay. We go to Simply Vietnam sometimes more than once a week and this place is not even close to being as good as Simply Vietnam. I will go back as my experience may be because they just opened and they maybe still trying to figure things out. I hope that is the case as the location is SO convenient from home and work!

  9. I ate there with my husband a few nights ago and totally loved it.
    Bonus points for being walking distance from our house.
    I had the chicken salad, which was just delicious and exactly the perfect item for the night we went, which was on the warmer side.
    Fresh veggies with a delicious mint vinaigrette, tasty pieces of chicken and perfectly cooked rice noodles.
    The egg rolls were great too. The peanut sauce was good.
    I sampled my husband’s pho and really liked it. It was tasty with a nice body and aroma.
    We will definitely be back. A lot. 🙂

  10. Oh please oh please oh please, everyone ask for Bahn Mi. I’ll try this place anyway because it sounds great, but I’d be there at least once a week, maybe twice for a good Bahn Mi.

    1. UGH. People, the vietnamese sandwiches you are all referring to is spelled BANH MI. I hate seeing the incorrect spelling. Get with it.
      If you’re craving some banh mi, go to the Thai market on Cleveland ave. They get some delivered fresh every Friday I heard. The sandwiches are great and affordable at $3 a pop. Nothing like Oakland’s Cam Huong’s sandwiches but pretty damn good for Santa Rosa.
      Don’t expect any Vietnamese restaurants to really sell banh mi around here. It’s hard to really make a substantial profit on banh mi in SR compared to larger metro areas with dense asian populations and personally I don’t think any restaurant owner is willing to take that risk. It’s not impossible to find banh mi (I know Lee’s on Hopper has it) but finding good banh mi? Probably not.
      Ok, done ranting. I will go check out this restaurant. Pho is labor intensive to make at home and I’ve got my cravings!!! Sorry, I just really wanted to point out the spelling error.

  11. I have been a few times with friends–and have never been disappointed. The BBQ pork is very flavorful, crispy on the outside and oh-so tender inside. Yummy. You really can’t do much better for the price. There’s lots of flavor, fresh food, served by very nice folks.

  12. My husband and I ate there the other night. Two thumbs up!!! We can’t wait to eat our way through the menu.

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