Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 20th
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Lickety Split Organic

dining_CharlieHongKongWhen I need a quick bite, a little spice, and nicely cooked greens, I stop by Charlie Hong Kong. Modeled after an Asian street food stand, the little kitchen which served hot dogs for years, dishes up noodle, and rice bowls, soups, and Vietnamese sandwiches using organic ingredients.

I like to sit on the patio under the arched green cover and eat with matching green chopsticks. The large varnished picnic tables are often shared by strangers—cafeteria-style. I helped myself to a cup of filtered water while waiting briefly for my order to be announced at the window.

The Salad Wrap ($2.75) was like a large fresh spring roll served with sweet-tart-salty Hoisin sauce. Crunchy, thin strips of carrot and daikon radish joined thin, white rice noodles, lettuce and a sliver of avocado in a thick, transparent rice paper wrap.

My favorite noodle bowl is Little Dan's Delight ($4.50). A generous bowl of soft, eggless noodles was bathed in spicy peanut sauce (a mild version is also available) and topped with perfectly wilted bok choy and tender-crisp broccoli florets.

Protein toppings, about six ounces each, are available for each bowl of rice or noodles, including Szechwan Mushroom and Sweet Garlic Tofu. The Green Curry Chicken Topping ($2.35), with natural shredded chicken, rich coconut milk and herbal green curry paste, makes a perfect mate to the peanut sauce.

The bowl was relatively spicy this time, but I couldn't help but fire it up with the American version of Sriracha Indonesian chili sauce.

Don't forget to check out the specials chalkboard. Recently, Kung Pao chicken, tofu or prawns ($7.30 to $8.75) was served over rice, and dry-farmed heirloom butternut squash was made into a soothing soup ($5.25). KP

Charlie Hong Kong, 1141 Soquel Ave. at Seabright, Santa Cruz., 426-5664. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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