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mmm…Fried Tofu

Posted by GNR 28 Mar 2008 16 Comments

Going to Bahn’s on 9th Street makes me feel cool.  I know that they serve special food on certain days and not-so-special food every other day of the week.  I have a favorite menu item.  Best of all, the nice lady behind the counter now recognizes me and knows my ordering preferences.  (Wednesday’s Vegetarian plate, extra vegetable side)

For those of you not already in the know like me, Bahn’s is on 9th Street.  They normally serve Chinese food that appears to sit under a lamp all day .  But something special happens on Wednesday and Saturday, and they add to their menu very good Vietnamese food at very good prices.

The best and most popular dish is the fried tofu with black bean sauce served with sticky rice.  It is best eaten fresh, when the tofu is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  I go on Wednesdays as a pre-pint night ritual, when the tofu  is accompanied by a vegetable side of broccoli, bean sprouts, and bok choy.   The very best part is that they sprinkle crunchy brown onions all over the top.  On Saturdays, it comes with a somewhat less spactacular spring roll.  Other good things that I have tried are the pork and celery soup, the shrimp with rice noodles, and this weird rice flour bun thing filled with unidentifiable chunks of meat.


Fried Tofu Vegetarian Plate

I am not sure what made Bahn’s decide that Wednesday and Saturday are so special, but they have made Wednesday an auspicious day for me, at least.

Bahn's Cuisine on Urbanspoon


  • durhamfood said:

    I’ve had the ‘Wednesday’ veggie plate on Saturdays too. It’s one of very very very few places I’ll order something veggie and really enjoy it. Yum!


  • Durham Bull Pen said:

    Bahn’s rocks, and the food and counter-service never lets me down. I should go more often, come to think of it. Thanks for reminding me.


  • sc said:

    been eating at banh’s around twice a week for 8 years now, initially drawn in by the tofu plate but learned
    to try any other special they come up with. the phos on saturday are usually excellent (especially the beef), as well as many of the weekday specials, with the thursday pork’n'tofu my current favorite. amazingly kind and generous people too, one of the most cherished durham institutions. and if you see a regular dish NOT on the hot bar then definitely order it, because it will be super fresh.


  • carpedurham said:

    Updated with picture!


  • Asanga’s Grill at Ninth Street Bakery « Carpe Durham said:

    [...] Asanga’s Grill at Ninth Street Bakery Ninth Street Bakery, as the name suggests, used to be on Ninth Street, where Elmo’s is currently located.  One of my earliest memories is of walking there with my mom and getting a bear claw, a slashed chocolate croissant laced with frosting.  I tried one earlier this week to see if it lived up to my memories, but sadly their baked goods just can’t compete with Guglhupf. However, I found out that on Wednesdays they serve a vegetarian Sri Lankan lunch at their current location in downtown Durham.  Although it sounded amazing, I was pretty skeptical about whether it could trump the $5 vegetarian plate at Bahn’s. [...]

  • Preeyanka said:

    Bahn’s normal veggie dish isn’t horrible either. It’s just stirfried veggies in sauce but it’s quite delicious. It’s definitely not in the hot bar (to be honest, I rarely see things in the hot bar there) but they go to the back and make it and it’s quite good.

    Their veggie dish on Wednesdays is also delicious but not as much variety on the veggies.


  • apathy said:

    Explain to me what this magical sounding “weird rice flour bun thing filled with unidentifiable chunks of meat” is. Are we talking dimsum like seseme ball? Or is it more of a flat fried roll kind of a deal?

    As I am relatively new to the area, this site has been helpful in determining where I should consume food. Unfortunately I never remember this place unless its Tuesday or Sunday which does not do me any good at all.


  • Orlando said:

    Their food on the non-Vietnamese days does NOT sit under the lamp all day, at least not anymore. They seem to make most everything to order nowadays, and usually there is almost nothing under the steam table when I go in (frequently, for the past eight years). They will make just about anything you ask for. Their hot and sour soup is very good, too — the guy who works there told me the grandmother makes it every night for the next day. But I shouldn’t be saying this I don’t want too many people to know about this place or I will never be able to get a seat!

    By the way, the spelling is Banh’s, not Bahn’s.


  • Full Frame Recommendations « Carpe Durham said:

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  • JohnforAmerica said:

    I’m not a huge tofu fan, so I just get Chicken and Vegetables instead. It’s the same yummy black bean sauce, but with chicken and veggies! I still get the delicious sticky rice with ground peanut over the top as well.


  • L. said:

    The chinese food isn’t sitting out all day. Every time I order on a non Vietnamese day, they make it fresh to order. I like the Ginger Shrimp and Ginger Chicken dishes as well. They use fresh ginger and then add some fresh ginger shredded on top. The veggies they use seem fresh as well. For generic take- out chinese food, they are better than the average shopping mall chinese take out place. The customer service is steller and the prices are good. I think that has a lot to do with the customer loyalty. (…wished they didn’t use styrofoam for everything though.)


  • kwixote said:

    Bahn’s does indeed rock, and the Vietnamese specials are indeed incredible. Indeed, I’ve been eating at Bahn’s for 20 years, and I would say that Bahn’s is the best food bargain in Durham.

    But otherwise this reviewer really messed up badly and did not bother to get his facts right at all. While many years ago, Bahn’s did use the heat lamps for their regular dishes, I have not seen them do so in a long, long time. For several years now, as far as I can tell, they have made nearly everything (except egg rolls and curry) fresh to order.

    This means that, if you go to Bahn’s instead of say your local McDonalds, you’ll have to wait a few minutes for food. But everybody is happy to wait for it, because it is well worth waiting for. This applies not only to the weekly (Wed/Sat) Vietnamese specials, but to their exceptionally good daily specials as well — which is what most people order there. There’s usually one or two of these specials each day.

    But even some of the dishes on their brief “regular” menu are quite good, such as the “Chicken Vegetables” — which is chicken, carrots, peppers, onions & broccoli in a light black bean sauce.

    What makes Bahn’s such a bargain? It’s not just the cheap, carry-out prices. The food is consistently of high quality, and normally involves great amounts of fresh, crispy (not usually overcooked) vegetables. The sauces are not overly sweet. They are also happy to substitute vegetables, or substitute tofu for chicken, etc.

    This is primarily a take-out joint. The tiny storefront dining area is not the most elegant place to eat a meal, but it is a great place to meet and great Durham. I regularly run into somebody I know there whom I haven’t seen in a long time.

    The proprietors are great. When I’ve forgotten my money, they’ve just told me “Pay us back next time.” Can you tell I eat at Bahn’s a lot?


  • Outdoor Dining Spots | Carpe Durham said:

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  • McLeyne said:

    More kudos for the non-special everyday items: I have been going to Banh’s for years and years, and I like to vary what I get. I love the mixed vegetables – the gingery brown sauce is great, and the chicken sate on sticks comes with a peanut sauce and a crunchy freshly cooked broccoli. My elderly mom gets the sweet and sour chicken – again, freshly made – delicious. And, I can’t leave out the spicy chicken wings – crunchy, spicy wonderfully goopy – no other wings anywhere can compete. My daughters often mix and match their orders, such as: 1/2 spicy wings and 1/2 Kung Pao chicken.


  • erik a. said:

    i’ve switched from the veg plate to ordering the noodle soup on wed. the little dumplings and the sauce on the side are amazon. i look forward to it. we’re going tonight.


  • A guy in the world said:

    Ginger Chicken/Shrimp/Tofu or Basil Chicken/Shrimp/Tofu on days other than Wednesday or Saturday. For the longest time I’d only go on Wednesday’s and get the veggie plate, but one day I tried a normal day and found the food was just as good. Honestly, any of the specials on the right hand board are gonna be good. But my wife’s favorite is the ginger, and mine is the basil (though the basil they don’t have very often).

    Check this place out, the food is great! You will also be supporting some very kind people who have been running this place with love for over 20 years.


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