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Ramen shop replaces Muracci?s in Los Altos

Uploaded: Mar 25, 2015
Charley Noodle & Grill, a Hawaiian-style ramen shop, has opened at the former home of Muracci's 2 on State Street in Los Altos.

The restaurant's namesake, Charley Cheng, said he ran a long-ago Chinese restaurant in Los Altos for almost 30 years before retiring and moving to Hawaii ? but now he's back to serve island-style ramen. He took over the 244 State St. space soon after the Muracci's owners closed in December 2014 after not being able to get a lease renewal.

Charley Noodle offers four broths to choose from (miso, shoyu, tongkatsu and original) which can be made non-spicy or spicy. Bowls start at $4 and come with green onions and baby bok choy; get extra noodles for $1.50. Toppings and side dishes ($2.50 to $3.50) include corn, a shoyu-flavored egg, boiled vegetables, fried shrimp, fried tofu, sweet potato, kim chi and for brave and non-traditional souls, chicken nuggets.

The restaurant's website offers a tantalizing description for how the tongkatsu broth is made:

"To make our signature Tongkatsu broth, we slowly simmer pork bones until it is pearly white. Finally, after such a long, low-temperature cook, we add vegetables, dried fish, kelp, and other savory ingredients. The taste is exceptional, in part because it is never boiled. Touched with lighter-than-average seasoning, we pride ourselves in a bowl that can be drunk down to the last drop."

The noodles are handmade and reportedly thinner than Japanese-style ramen noodles.

Charley Noodle is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 8:30 p.m.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by chuck reilly , a resident of another community,
on Mar 25, 2015 at 7:58 pm

Edna, you rule ! Time for a Facebook Business page so we can start Marketing and Branding you :)

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Mar 26, 2015 at 9:29 am

I'm curious to know what makes their ramen "Hawaiian-style."

From the written descriptions, ingredients and photos from their website, it appears to be conventional Japanese ramen.

Also, it should be spelled "tonkotsu" (pork bone broth). "Tonkatsu" is a fried pork cutlet, and "tongkatsu" doesn't exist.

Posted by Elena Kadvany, a resident of another community,
on Mar 26, 2015 at 9:34 am

Jay -- Thanks for your comments. I haven't been to the restaurant and admittedly don't know much about Hawaiian-style ramen, but the main difference seems to be the noodle, called saimin, which is Japanese-inspired but thinner.

More info on saimin: Web Link and Web Link

The spelling "tongkatsu" is from the Charley Noodle website/menu.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Mar 26, 2015 at 9:45 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Five years ago, Stett Holbrook wrote up a remarkable South-Korean ramen variation, "army-base stew" (available at Jang Su Jang in Santa Clara). Its signature ingredient is Spam (as in Hormel), an ingredient originally from wartime supplies that became regionally popular. He also mentioned that Spam had become even more established as an ingredient in Hawaii. Web Link

So when a new "Hawaiian" noodle house opens, I'm curious if the menu has any sign of Spam? ! Charley's online menu doesn't, but it has an array of varied "side dishes" that look much more interesting anyway.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Mar 26, 2015 at 12:13 pm


Thanks for the explanation about the noodle difference, I'm curious to try this out. This shop's pricing is reasonable, not like those silly $20 ramens in SF or Oakland.

Perhaps "tongkatsu" is the Hawaiian spelling for pork bone broth. :-)

Spam has been a Hawaiian staple for decades, they've been putting in various dishes, but none more famous (infamous?) than the spam musubi. I've seen spam musubi being sold at various Obon Festivals in the area, including the Mountain View Buddhist Temple's Obon.

Spam ramen? Not for me, thanks!

Posted by Aloha, a resident of another community,
on Mar 26, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Hawaiian saimin is not made with tonkotsu broth. Saimin is usually made with a light chicken broth, giving the dish a much different taste from the ramen typically sold at Japanese-American restaurants (also a much cheaper price). You can find a fairly typical Hawaiian-style saimin at L&L restaurant on El Camino or J&J in Menlo Park.

Posted by Ramen, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 27, 2015 at 5:25 am

Any advice or thoughts on finding healthy versions of Ramen, or at least some healthier than most. It is tasty but often is super high in salt and, often calories (really high for noodles). Just wondering if others have looked into variations based on these factors.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Mar 27, 2015 at 10:00 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Restaurant ramen broths do run salty, some even more so than others. That's true of many East-Asian noodle soups, not just ramen. The fundamental way to get around it is to make your own at home, where you control both ingredients and flavor.

The best Peninsula examples I've seen of non-oversalted noodle soups have been in a very few conscientious Phở houses ("Pho" is the simplified spelling, I include it here in case this website doesn't render the Vietnamese modified vowel -- it's not actually an O, which is why the soup also isn't pronounced "foe" but "fə" with a schwa or neutral vowel, and regional variations on that).

"Real" or homemade Phở uses slow-cooked meat broth with several spices, which isn't hard to make well, it just needs cooking time. Restaurants are notorious for shortcutting this process with flavor crutches, especially salt, which masks the limitations of cheap or fake broth. (Despite enduring myth, "MSG" is always naturally present, even abundant, in meat broths, as the sodium and soluble glutamate ions, even when not added explicitly. Ironically, MSG as an additive can actually _reduce_ the sodium level needed to achieve a given perceived saltiness. Topics for separate discussion sometime.)

Currently the positive example I know best is PhoTo Chau on Villa St. in Mountain View. It changed hands last year, I've had about 20 meals there since, and its basic Pho soups with beef broth and rice noodles have had consistently decent quality, long cooking, modest salting. (And they're not pricey: simple "#1" Phở runs 6.70, 7.70, or 8.70 for small, regular, or large size.)

Posted by resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 27, 2015 at 10:56 am

The ramen restaurant near the Mountain View post office sells an allegedly healthier ramen using soup base that is blended from pork and chicken stock. If you're worried about calories, however, the noodles and soup are only a fraction of the problem. A main ingredient of all ramens is a large portion of fatty pork meat.

I agree with the previous post that Vietnamese food can be had with less salt and less calories than most other restaurant foods. Vietnamese soups are often loaded with salt, but their salads and cold noodle dishes usually are not.

Personally, I think the key to healthy eating is portions, not ingredients. Especially when you're eating with your family, order a few dishes and split them into smaller portions. You don't need a huge plate for everyone.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 27, 2015 at 11:50 am

If healthy eating is your goal, you are better off making your own ramen as you have careful oversight over the ingredients and portion size. That pretty much applies to *any* dish, not just ramen.

At any given ramen shop, I suggest you ask the people who work there for suggestions on healthier and/or less salty items. This might be the vegetarian item or something with leaner cuts of meat. The broth itself isn't particularly high in calories (as the fat has been skimmed away), it's the other ingredients added to the soup (like the aforementioned fatty cuts of pork).

Remember that noodles are pure starch = carbohydrates. The fewer noodles you eat, the fewer calories, so portion control is a big part of eating healthy. Choose a smaller size, take the leftovers home for another meal, or do both.

Posted by AC, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Mar 28, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Replaced? Sound like someone was kicked out and the new tenant brought in with a new lease and higher rate

Posted by noodle lover, a resident of another community,
on Mar 29, 2015 at 6:45 am

does Charlie own building ? He was there for so long !!

Posted by SS, a resident of Los Altos,
on Mar 31, 2015 at 8:57 am

Charley operated a very popular Chinese restaurant at the same location many years ago. Before that he operated Lucky Donuts in Los Altos. He is back, as wonderful as ever with a new menu. His noodles are like saimin in Hawaii, thin and very al dente. His 'Original' broth is chicken based. No Spam on the menu. His side dishes round out a nice, light meal. Vegetarian options on side dishes as well as shrimp, chicken, and pork. A few fried options also.

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