Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wicked Satay noodles in the heart of Silicon Valley

I changed roles at work in January and as a result I have been spending more and more time in Cali. There are so many great Asian places to eat at in Silicon Valley that I fear I'll never really make a dent in them, but I'm having fun trying. I decided to head out to Rengstorff Pho in Mountain View with my colleagues and product managers extraordinaire Roupen and Saurabh. I chose Rengstorff Pho because I had read it was famous for it's Satay style noodle soup. a drool-worthy dish I hadn't tried before.

Witness the deliciousness- Satay noodle soup

 Any restaurant in the valley that's any good at all is overun with customers around lunch time, so we walked into the half-empty restaurant with some slight trepidation. This turned out to be a false alarm though, because by the time we were ready to order 5 minutes later, all of the seats had filled up. As we walked in, I noticed a plate of chicken rice on a table, one of my all time favorite things to eat, so of course we had to add that to the order.

Roupen (left) and Saurabh (right) know they are in for a good meal.

We all picked at the chicken rice, which I thought was very good- but nothing mind blowing. I liked it as a shared appetizer. I would definitely order this again, but I'm interested to know, where is the best chicken rice in the valley? A blogworthy topic in itself, especially for a Singaporean, who are famous for their love of this dish. Thank god I finally found a place to share random, useless, and esoteric knowledge like that.

Tasty Chicken Rice

We also asked for some summer rolls- always an automatic order for me-  which were about twice as long as the ones that  I'm used to and were utterly fresh and delicious.

Great summer rolls (or whatever they call them out West)
 For our main course, we unanimously decided to try what seems to be the de-facto house special,  the Satay noodle soup. We washed this down with some fresh young coconut juice that I would definitely recommend ordering--  I love it when there are fresh slices of coconut in my drink.

Don't be jealous

The soup was the vibrant color of a good tomato or Mulligatawny soup and was thick but not overly so like a bisque. The broth, which had a perfect medium level of spiciness,  was laced with peanutty goodness and fat, broad rice noodle similar to Ho Fon. I also like these noodles in thicker beef based broths like the beef stew at Yogee Noodle back home in NYC. In the Satay broth, having more surface area on the noodle increases the intensity of flavor. Speaking of flavor intensity, Rengtorff Pho claims not to use any MSG on their website- always a great thing.

The meat was the same kind that is used in Pho Tai,. That meat is usually referred to as "eye of round" on a Vietnamese menu and is essentially a thinly sliced and raw roast beef that cooks in the hot soup. The quality of the beef was excellent but in a powerful Satay broth, it's the meat that absorbs the flavor of the broth rather than the meat flavoring the broth as it does with Pho. Saurabh mentioned that each bowl must have at least 1,000 calories with all those peanuts and noodles. While that's a buzzkill, it's really all about balance. It's perfectly fine to go out and binge all night on hookers and coke every odd evening as long as you go to church the next day.

Wutup soup!

A handsome man and his noodles.

Great thick noodles perfect for the Satay broth

We loved this place and I would definitely go back.  The three of us ate like kings for about $20 each. Next time, even though I'm really into the Satay soup, I may just check out the regular Pho, unless of course I'm planning to go to church the next day.

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