Charlie Hong Kong: Great Tasting Vegan Asian Food in Santa Cruz, California
Looking for awesome vegan food in Santa cruz? Look no further than Charlie Hong Kongs. This old school establishment has been serving up plant-based fare for over 20 years! If you’re in the mood for healthy noodles and stir-fries this place has got you covered. Charlie Hong Kong is known for creating vegan asian-inspired dishes that will fill you up and make you feel good afterwards. No greasy food, or unhealthy ingredients here. Just plain good food that will make you happy.
If I had to summarize what kind of food they serve I would say it’s a mix of Indonesian, Thai and Chinese food done right. Normally I’m not that crazy about fusion places, but this one really knows what they are doing and all of their dishes are on point!
Although Charlie Hong Kong isn’t a fully vegan restaurant, they do offer a vegan menu which is super cool. Their menu is designed so you can choose what type of bowl you want and then add a topping if you want. Some optional toppings you can add are organic sweet garlic tofu which is local tofu that they sauté in ginger and green onions for milder palates. Another vegan topping is organic spicy garlic tofu which they sauté in a fragrant chili garlic sauce.
So what are my favorite dishes to eat here?
Gado-gado which is an Indonesian peanut butter stir-fry of broccoli tossed with kale and carrots served over freshly steamed basmati rice. Another favorite of mine is Spicy Dan’s Peanut Delight Bowl. This dish is perfect for any noodle lovers because it’s an entire bowl filled with their special “eggless” wheat noodles stir-fried in a wok with broccoli and other veggies in a delicious peanut butter sauce that is to die for.
They have a ton of all vegan bowls to chose from like Charlie’s Pad Thai Bowl which is one of their famous dishes comprised of a medley of organic veggies mixed together in a tamarind sauce topped off with peanuts and pickled veggies. It’s pretty awesome that they serve vegan pad Thai here because normally at Thai places you have to worry about fish or oyster sauce, but not here. All of their bowls are vegan by default so you can order easily without having to make any substitutes.
You can choose from their specialities like Charlies Chow Mein Bowl, Kung Pao Bowl or their Laughing Phoenix Red Curry Bowl.
Some other dishes that you can order here are their spring rolls which are filled with pickled veggies, rice vermicelli noodles and avocado. If you are craving a salad they also offer a Goddess of springTime Salad which is filled with lots of healthy lettuce and topped off with a tahini dressing that is refreshing and satisfying.
Their food tends to be on the spicy side (just how I like it!) but you can always request mild spice if you are sensitive to heat in your food.
On top of being an amazing asian restaurant that serves vegan options in Santa Cruz, what I like most about Charlie Hong Kongs is that they use local, organic ingredients. This means that the food they use to make your meals is coming from within fifty miles or less from the local farms in Santa Cruz. You can really taste the difference! The food here is so flavorful and the veggies still have a crunch to them.
Are you gluten free? No problem, They also have an option where you can substitute rice or even brown rice for any noodles.
The atmosphere at this place is super laid-back. This is sort of a street food joint where you order at a little window and you pick up your food when they call your number. The food is made super fast in a wok (you can actually watch them cook your food inside!) and served piping hot. There is plenty of outdoor seating with picnic tables, which is great if you’re wanting some fresh air, and there are even heat lamps at night.
I love how they have condiments like hot sauce and soy sauce available as well on all of the tables. There is Sirachi sauce available if you want to make your food even more hot! (something I am guilty of doing even before I taste my food).
I love how Charlie Hong Kongs has been around for such a long time. While other mom and pop businesses are shutting down in Santa Cruz due to the high cost of rent and new influx of tech, this place seems to live on and persist. Why? Everyone loves their food. This is a great place to go to if you have carnivore friends or families who want to eat something different than you, because there is something for everyone here.
Located on Soquel street, this place is situated perfectly at an intersection where you can people watch while slurping on some spicy noodles.
There is free Parking in the back (although cramped) at least it’s there. Since we are on a road trip, this was much appreciated.
Next time I come here I want to try their Chocolate Vegan pudding which looks incredible.
What is the verdict?
In conclusion, what I love most about this place is that they are so affordable! Their vegan bowls start T only $7 which is an absolute steal. If you are a vegan on a budget, or just want to try and eat something a little lighter, I really recommend trying out this place… you won’t be disappointed!
I had such a fun time re-visiting Charlie Hong Kong because nothing has changed about this place. They still serve delicious food that is healthy and plant-based at dirt cheap prices, and I’m so happy I decided to stop by here because my meal was perfect.
Charlie Hong Kong Address
Address: 1141 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Charlie Hong Kong Website