The comedown from the holidays is never fun, but this year it hit me especially hard.
In the midst of the normal holiday pandemonium, my boyfriend and I brought a puppy into our lives, and then on Christmas Eve we became engaged. The last few weeks of December are a happy blur of champagne toasts and sleepless, puppy-filled nights.
As a result, my fiancé and I started the new year exhausted and fighting off colds. And like many in January, I was looking forward to making healthier meal choices and to begin undoing some of the damage that cheese plates and holiday cookies hath wrought. To top it off, the aches and pains I was feeling were nothing compared to what my credit card was going through.
I have a secret weapon for times like this: the spicy sesame noodle soup at Betty’s Noodle House. You might not think that an Asian restaurant nestled in the Metro Center in downtown Santa Cruz could produce such delights, but it does. I’ve worked my way through many of their soups, but Spicy Sesame No. 13 continues to be my favorite because of its rich, comforting broth—nutty and aromatic, with the flavor of toasted sesame seeds.
Despite its name and a tablespoon of chili flakes, I don’t find it very spicy, and I always amplify the heat, especially if I’m attempting to clear my sinuses. The bowl comes with more eggless wheat noodles than I can usually eat, and a nice portion of baby bok choy, zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli, still with a little crunch after being just-cooked in the super hot broth on its way to the table.
It’s normally topped with pieces of tofu, which can be on the bland side except that they soak up the delicious broth like little sponges. It’s satisfying every time, and although I consider myself to be a pretty good cook, I doubt I could recreate a broth with this kind of depth for a mere $9.50 in my own home.
The spicy sesame noodle bowl is a meal my stomach, stuffed head and wallet can get behind every time.
Betty’s Noodle House, 920 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 426-2328.