Charlie Hong Kong, a staple of the Santa Cruz beach scene since 1998, has picked Mill Valley for its second location. Owners Carolyn and Darryl (Rudy) Rudolph expect to open their sustainably sourced, California-meets-Southeast-Asia street food restaurant in the old Ino Sushi space (on Miller Ave. next to Baskin Robbins and Henry's Toyshop) by mid-October.
"We're really street food and we're really quick," says Carolyn Rudolph.
But unlike most street food stalls in places like Singapore and Manila, Rudolph said the chicken comes from Rocky Poultry in Petaluma, the salmon meets the sustainability standards set by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and you won't see prawns on the menu until Rudolph finds a vendor that meets her stringent quality and sustainability requirements.
"I'm a food activist," she said. "And I always look for vendors I trust."
Rudolph said the menu will be similar to the Santa Cruz restaurant, including "signature rice bowls, soups and salads, and we only cook with heart-friendly rice bran oil."
All bowls start out vegan but can be customized with toppings likes chicken, salmon, pork and beef. A specials board is in the planning stages and will include the bounty of Marin's farmer's markets. Joseph Woods, a trained chef and long-time manager for Grilly's in Mill Valley, will wear two hats as manager-chef of the Mill Valley location.
Charlie Hong Kong in Santa Cruz won the Golden Carrot Award from the United Way in 2010 for its high standards in food safety and nutrition.
"Mill Valleyans care about what they eat and what their kids eat," Rudolph said. "We offer that to the community."
Charlie Hong Kong's interior will be bright and playful while the exterior will reflect the more subdued style Mill Valley is known for, Rudolph said. There will be beer on tap and a wine list; a kid's menu is high on Rudolph's list. Hours are to be determined but the Santa Cruz location is open seven days a week from 11am to 11pm.
"This is a free-flowing place to eat, and we know Mill Valleyans will appreciate it," Rudolph said.