Charlie Hong Kong is a Midtown mainstay that offers a variety of Asian dishes centered on local organic produce and nutrient-dense foods. Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the popular local spot has been owned by Carolyn Rudolph for 23 years. Her passion is to use food as medicine and to ensure that the whole community has access to healthy and affordable food. She spoke to GT recently on the cuisine they serve and the philosophy behind it.
What is Charlie Hong Kong?
CAROLYN RUDOLPH: This is a quick service restaurant, but not fast food as everything is made to order and fresh daily. We cut 500 pounds of organic produce every morning. We want our food to be accessible, with an Asian street food feel, and to be a welcoming place where our whole community can come to feed themselves and their families. Because our food is so plant-based, our relationship with our local farms is essential. This product is what defines us and Lakeside Organics, the farm we partner with, really focuses on soil quality and that’s what produces high nutrient density vegetables.
What are the best dishes?
Our Spicy Dan is absolutely our number one bestseller, without a doubt it’s one of our signature dishes and fundamentally defines our restaurant. It contains egg-free wheat noodles specially made for us, locally grown organic greens, and a peanut and coconut sauce. It’s cooked in a wok and is very creamy and nicely layered – the sauce really sticks to the noodles and covers the veg. It is very tasty and plentiful. The community really embraces the dish; it is extremely popular. We also sell a lot of our teriyaki chicken rice bowl. It’s served over jasmine rice and topped with pickled and pickled green onions, daikon, and carrots. People love to add our homemade hoisin and chili garlic sauces to it. We prepare food so people can spice it up by adding spices to suit the individual palette. We also make our own Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. We charred whole ginger and onions and add spices to the simmered chicken bone broth. We use a thicker rice noodle, then garnish the dish with basil, green onion, lime, and jalapeño. It is very popular, especially during the cold season; people are really drawn to it when they’re not feeling well, and it’s very nourishing.
1141 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, 831-426-5664; charliehongkong.com.