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Oct 10th
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A+ Pho

dining_AsianExpressCan't decide between Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese food? At Capitola's new Asian Express you can enjoy all three. As an added bonus, they make an exceptional bowl of pho (which approximately rhymes with duhhh), a Vietnamese noodle soup.

At Asian Express, nestled between Starbucks and Togo's in the Ross building of the Capitola Mall, various appetizers, entrées and side dishes wait in warming trays at the counter. Choose from a single entrée and side ($4.50), two entrées ($5.49), or three ($6.39).

The chow mein noodles were mixed with vegetables and pieces of omelet. Rice was fried with peas, carrots and eggs. Chili-flecked beef and carrots in a dark sauce were topped with roasted potatoes, and lollipop chicken drumettes were coated with a sweet, caramelized sauce. Two long Fresh Spring Rolls ($2.95) were stuffed with parsley, mint leaves, lettuce, green onions, noodles and a couple of big shrimps.

Asian Express has kicked upthe level of local pho a number of notches. The light-colored house-made beef broth is richly seasoned with tropical spices. Thin pieces of beef top the made-to-order Rare Steak and Beef Balls Noodle Soup ($6.75). Hemispherical meatballs of finely ground beef are also house-made. The Chicken Noodle Soup ($7.25), often prepared with beef broth, is made here with chicken stock.

I ordered the more traditional Asian Beef Noodle Soup ($7.25). Joining the steak and meatballs were strips of roast beef, red and green onions and cilantro. Creamy white prickled curls of tripe were slightly chewy and mildly flavored. The soup was served with a plate of traditional accessories including purple-stemmed Thai basil, fresh lime and bean sprouts. I alternated between Indonesian Srirachi chili sauce, sweet, dark hoisin, and smooth red chili paste on the slurpy chopsticks of noodles. They tell me more pho variations will be offered in the future.

Asian Express, 1955 41st Ave., Ste. A-2, Capitola, 476-9999. Open daily 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Comments (4)Add Comment
Great Writing!
written by Gloria Park, January 16, 2013
What a well written article. I appreciate the attention to details...and the descriptions of the food! Makes my mouth water. I will definitely have to check it out.
written by JD, September 22, 2010
I agree with Alex, I grew up in San Jose moved to Santa Cruz and now FINALLY have something closer than San Jose with real pho....
written by alex p, August 05, 2010
As good as the pho I normally drive to San Jose to get. THE REAL THING and LOCAL!
A+ Pho is great!
written by Corine Csermelyi, July 23, 2010
I originally was raised in a big city where a tasty bowl of Pho was to be found just around the corner. Since I moved to Aptos I have never spotted a Pho restaurant in the area, so while on my way to the Capitola mall the other night, I was craving something wholesome and yummy and to my surprise there stood this new Vietnamese restaurant. I loved that the owner was such a attentive host. When I said I didn't have enough money he was kind enough to let me slide a few dollars and pay the rest the next time I came back. I also appreciated the huge portions and the fresh herbs that came along with the soup. It was all very delicious and made me feel nostalgic for home. Since, I have returned to pay back what I owed and to satisfy my cravings once again. I definitely will continue to return and spread the word to friends on this wholesome and yummy tasting Pho. smilies/cheesy.gifsmilies/grin.gifsmilies/tongue.gif

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