Cambodian Noodles at New Saigon

Kearny (between Columbus & Jackson), S.F., CA | previous visits: 6.02.2007, 5.24.2007/

We’ve eaten here many times and I never noticed the Cambodian Noodle dish until my co-worker Jay ordered it. I was mesmerized by these intriguing noodles… thick clear strands that look like like they are made of glass

It’s served in a chicken based broth with seafood, which includes a few prawns, some calamari, a handful of fish balls, surimi (which is Japanese fish paste made to look like crab), and slices of fishcake. Along with chopped green onion and fresh cilantro, it came with some fried shallots tossed on top that adds a deliciously sweet, smokey complexity to the broth.

The noodles are thick and chewy with and stick together at first, so you must make sure to break them up so they don’t stay clumped together in a mass.

The strands are quite thick, roughly 1/4″ or the same thickeness as udon noodles but are fascinatingly clear and are much more resiliant than rice noodles.

I tried to search online about these noodles and found nothing useful, but I really liked the way they looked and especially how they kept their resiliency without getting soft or soggy. The menu listing only said cambodian noodles, and I think you can order them how you like, so I might have to see if I can get them with the variety of meat and broth like regular pho…


  1. January 11, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Foodhoe, what a pretty picture of those Cambodian noodles, especially against that blue bowl.

    The noodles actually are very popular in a Hawaiian dish called Chicken Long Rice. You get chicken pieces in this broth with the clear noodles and some other ingredients. Very popular at luaus.

    The Hawaiians probably got the noodles from the Chinese who immigrated to the islands first. The Chinese uses this noodles a lot in their cooking as well, especially in hot pots or claypot cooking. Just like the Cambodians, it’s often used in broth dishes.

    I hear it referred to as long rice (in Hawaii) or clear noodles or sometimes cellophane noodles because it’s clear. At Chinese stores, you’ll see them sold in little packets in the noodle sections and I notice that the ingredients usually say it’s made of mung bean.

    Which reminds me, I have to buy some to add some to this vegetarian dish I make for the Chinese new year!

  2. paige said,

    January 12, 2008 at 4:57 am

    Hi there–love your blog!

    These are called Yam Noodles–I just bought a package for the first time at the County Square asian market in Concord. I’ve been trying to find them forever and didn’t know what they were called but when I was at County Square last week, I noticed they were being served in the hot food aisle. I asked the attendant what they were called and she said “yam noodle” and said they sold them in the noodle aisle. She gave me one dried noodle, which was clear-ish (so I would know what to look for) and I it took me a while to find them because I was looking for a package of clear-looking noodles but in reality, they have a light army-green color to them when they are bundled together and in their dry form. I asked a stock person where to find the “yam noodles” and he directed me right to the package that I had ignored (because of it’s funny greenish/grey color). They come in a pretty big package and are on or near the bottom shelf of the noodle aisle and the package is clear with green writing/design. I cooked some up for the first time last weekend and they were delish and looked so cool and glassy–just like in your picture. The ingredients on the back of the package say sweet potato and water.

    Hope this helps!

  3. foodhoe said,

    January 12, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Hey Chef Ben, Thanks for the info, that’s what an interesting name, long rice…
    Paige, Thanks for the info about the yam noodles too, it’s especially helpful to have the ingredient and also the description of what they look like dried so I don’t pass them by too b/c they aren’t clear! Now I will have to try both mung bean and sweet potato noodles, how fun!

  4. angel van said,

    January 14, 2008 at 4:51 am

    These noodles remind me of hu tieu noodles. Not really sure what they would be called in english. But I don’t think I have ever seen yam noodles. Wonder if they are the same thing.

  5. justin b said,

    January 14, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    When was the last time you visted this place? I’ve called the number listed and walked passed the place. No one answers the phone and it wasn’t open during the listed business hours. Any info would be great. Thanks

  6. foodhoe said,

    January 14, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    angel van, I will have to look those noodles up, never heard of them. thanks! I went to Ranch 99 and got some sweet potato noodles this weekend but haven’t had a chance to cook them yet.
    justinb, I was there last week. They don’t open til 11:45ish, and seem like they’ve been shorthanded, but they are definitely open.

  7. January 18, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Like Chef Ben, I too call them mung bean noodles. They are also called cellophane noodles ( You can get a thinner version for under a buck and they come in these plastic, neon pink mesh bags.

  8. January 18, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Oops, I mean to say that “like Chef Ben, I too call them CELLOPHANE or mung bean noodles!” I defer to Chef Ben!

  9. Cindy said,

    January 29, 2008 at 5:32 am

    Really nice picture you got there!

  10. eatyet said,

    January 29, 2008 at 7:52 am

    mung bean noodles get soggy if left in warm liquids like soup. i’m gonna guess it’s more likely yam noodles, made from a type of nagaimo which is used to make konnyaku and shirataki (it can also be white or clear) it’s chewy gelatinous but doesn’t melt or soften with heat or liquid.

  11. January 29, 2008 at 8:45 am

    This is one of my favorite dishes. They’re hu tieu noodles. They’re not cellophane or vermicelli noodles as those are made from mung beans. These have a different consistency. Hu tieu are made out of tapioca flour, that’s why they’re clear. Think of the transparency of har gow vs. cheurng fun and you’ve got the difference between tapioca and rice flour.

    If the restaurant is called New Saigon, I’m assuming it’s a Vietnamese restaurant? These would be hu tieu noodles, and the soup is hu tieu nam vang (nam vang is the VNese word for Phnom Penh, hence the Cambodian noodles description). I’ve also heard this called hu tieu Saigon. It’s a Southern VNese dish with several variations including a Chinese version with rice noodles and My Tho (a city in the Mekong delta) that has egg noodles or sometimes a mix of egg and rice noodles. All three versions usually have a clear pork broth and a combo of pork (usually char siu) and seafood such as shrimp, squid, and crab. The southern part of Vietnam used to belong to Cambodia so there’s a lot of cultural mixing with cuisine and names of food and places. Saigon was settled by Ming generals fleeing Manchus more than 300 years ago, so that’s where you get the Chinese influence. And of course, the Mekong Delta is known for lots of seafood.

    Probably way more information than you needed to know. :)

    Even though the menu says you can mix and match, I’ve never seen these noodles eaten as pho. They usually just come dry with broth on the side, or already mixed in. Not that you have to stick to tradition.

    Anyway, hope that helps.

  12. foodhoe said,

    January 29, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    PE, Dang I went to Ranch 99 and just stood there looking at all the noodles… I did end up getting some potato noodles that look Korean and of course, they’re just sitting in the pantry…
    Cindy, thanks for visiting!
    Eatyet, I’ve had konnyaku and the texture is similar, although these seemed silkier, less chewy. Think I need to get another bowl to refresh my memory!
    WC, someone else said hu tieu noodles. Tapioca flour sounds more like what I’d imagine these noodles are made of! I’m going to have to print this whole page out and bring it to the market. Thanks so much for the education on vietnamese noodle soups, I really love hearing information like that.

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