Ever have a craving that turned out really poorly? That's Kahoo El Camino (3590 El Camino Real in Santa Clara) in a nutshell. Impromptu ramen run in the evening led my dining companions and I here. After an excellent experience at a different Kahoo branch the week before, I had hopes for a nearer street to give a worthy repeat. Wrong then, and every time I tried again.
When a restaurant is cold and nearly empty during high-profile times, I have concerns. I also have expectations of better food and better service due to additional attention, and that didn't happen. That worries me. Doesn't help that the Yelp page for this location has it listed as Permanently Closed, either.
The menu is about the same as the other incarnation, but the quality is a notch or three down. The ramen broths go heavy on salt, and the spicy variants have enough chili oil to throw the balance and nearly turn the stomach. Hard to screw up Chicken Kara-age, and they didn't. But the over-reliance on kewpie mayo as a garnish for some of the appetizers is a serious problem- I mourned the concealment of my Takoyaki's flavor. Japanese food is typically simple and elegant- the plates here are all flash and no flavor.
Having dined there several times, I've never once had anything much better than average in terms of food quality, and typically the service is slow or sloppy as well. There are plenty of ramen-centered establishments in easy driving distance that are far superior, including the other Kahoo location.
Unless you're right next door, I say give it a miss.