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Vietnamese comfort food at 9N9

Posted by DNR 15 May 2008 6 Comments

Tucked in between Jersey Mike’s Subs and the Farm Bureau is 9N9 , another great ethnic restaurant in RTP. They’re best known for their phở, but I had heard good things about the rest of their menu and couldn’t wait to go again.
9N9

Despite the desolate strip-mall setting, 9N9 is pretty cozy inside, with one big dining area, lined with laminated photos of some of the dishes, that gets full during lunch hours. I found out right before going that they also serve Vietnamese sandwiches (not on the menu), and ever since my first bánh mì (link) I’ve been on the lookout for more. At $3 a sandwich it was hard to get only one. Apparently when you get them to go, they separate all the veggies from the rest of the sandwich so it doesn’t get soggy before you assemble it.

BBQ pork bánh mì

The BBQ pork was delicious, even if the assembly was perfunctory. Surprisingly, the fillings were heavy on the cilantro but glaringly light on the jalapeno. I usually expect to be in agony after a bánh mì, but for some reason 9N9 skips the jalapeno altogether. Considering there are much better bánh mì options in the Triangle (especially Jujube, which makes theirs with Guglhupf baguettes), I suggest you spare your arteries and save room for the specials.

Sliced rare beef phở

We also ordered a bowl of sliced rare beef phở ($6 for small, $7 for large) and one of the specials, the catfish clay pot. Phở broth has got to be the ultimate comfort food, and although I’d probably be happy with phở of any quality, the beef broth at 9N9 is really flavorful (anise, cloves, ginger) and satisfying, and the noodles and beef come alive with hoisin sauce and siracha.

Catish clay pot

The catfish clay pot ($10) – “catfish shimmered carmelized in soy sauce” – was incredible: basically a whole, prepared bone-in catfish served with rice. The oil/soy sauce marinade was intensely peppery and really complimented the catfish, which falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. There were a lot of mystery items in the pot, and you have to be careful to avoid the bones, but this special was a real treat and bodes well for the rest of the specials.

I’ve heard the house fried rice is another winner – has anyone tried it? And by the way, be sure to check out the first annual Triangle Restaurant Week. Fixed price, 3 course dinners at restaurants you can’t otherwise afford. This year it’s only in Raleigh, but next year they plan to expand to Durham and Chapel Hill.

9N9 (map)
Monday – Friday: 10 am – 8.30 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 10 am – 9 pm

Pho 9n9 on Urbanspoon

6 Comments »

  • Joe said:

    Great review. Thanks so much. i’m planning on heading there for lunch today with a friend and wanted to get the scoop. I’ve been searching for a good banh mi sandwich since I left NY a couple of years ago and am so happy to have found a couple. Went to Jujube last week and really enjoyed the sandwich. Though I will admit that I didn’t think the baguette was as good as it could have been but it was still great overall. Just stumbled across this blog, as a fellow (former) lawyer and foodie I greatly appreciate it. The

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  • DNR said:

    The bahn mi at 9N9 is probably intended to be more of a takeout item than the one at Jujube, since it’s way smaller and greasier. Although I haven’t been I hear Dalat in Raleigh has a good bahn mi too. Hope you guys enjoy it!

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  • David Rollins said:

    At my office we call this “the two dollar pork sandwich place”. I guess they’ve raised the prices by a buck, it’s been a while since I’ve stopped by.

    The neatest thing about this place is that it used to be open 9-9 (hence the name). Where else can you get good vietnamese food that early in the morning?

    It reminds me of a place I used to frequent under the Manhattan Bridge abutting Chinatown — $6 for an incredible variety of fresh ingredients on a wonderful roll (including shrimp). A must stop when we used to drive out to Coney Island.

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    Chris replies on April 3rd, 2010 at 7:01 am:

    ’9′ is an extremely lucky number in Vietmanese culture. Hence the name. I admit, I didn’t just happen to know that, I asked the owner about the name of the place.

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  • chonblanco said:

    If I’m not mistaken, the bahn mi should be two for $5. With a little cooperation from friends or coworkers you can recoup the fifty cents. Or do as I do and just eat another a little later. Indeed.

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  • chicky said:

    Vietnamese food is really good and delicious…I love it..hope you guys enjoy it…

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