9N9 at RTP - how to move beyond pho?
- AreBe May 17, 2007 08:44 AM
I'm happy in my little rut of ordering rare beef pho, but I wonder if I'm missing out on other great dishes. What else do you order here? Why is it so wonderful?
Hey, great question. I can't help myself from always ordering the pho, 'cause it's so damn good, but I was wondering the same thing. I always get a combo of P1, P2, and P3 (rare beef, cooked beef, and pot roast).
Their summer rolls (I think they call them spring rolls) are pretty good. I usually pair up my soup with that as an appetizer. Also, you can't go wrong with the iced coffee. They serve strong black coffee over some condensed milk. You stir it all together, and then dump the mixture over ice.
Has anyone tried their sandwiches? I've always been curious about them, considering their price ($2 or $3).
The sandwiches aren't as good as the ones at Dalat . . . there are fewer veggies, fewer meat selections, and the quality of the meat isn't as good. They're still probably better than whatever you'd get next door at Jersey Mike's, and hey, for a couple of bucks, you should go ahead & give them a try. If you like them, go to Dalat in Raleigh & you'll *really* fall in love.
I haven't ever strayed much further than the pho at 9N9 either . . . I kind of think of it as a classic "pho joint" that just happens to have other stuff on the menu, but since I haven't tried much else, I could be wrong.
I gotta say I love their sandwiches. The only thing I don't like is the guilt I feel for pigging out on 2 sandwiches for only $4. So usually I pile some spring rolls on to get my bill up to a more respectable sum.
That said, I only get the pork sandwich. They used to offer bbq pork or chinese pork. There was a difference, but I don't know which was which. Now I just order pork and eat what they bring me. I didn't really like the 3 hams style, and the chicken isn't worth $1.
But I've never been to Dalat. Need to try that.
I've tried a few of their other things and the verdict: not so much. I love their rare beef pho. Hard to beat. I'm sure I'd love Dalat, but it's in Raleigh and I'm in Durham. Next time I'm over there.... I have had the sandwiches at 9N9 and being someone who doesn't like sandwiches piled high, I think they're pretty good. Just having cilantro and jalapenos on sandwiches was a revelation to me.
Back in the 90s Dalat had a sub shop a couple of doors down from the main restaurant. It was pretty mind-blowing when it opened. They didn't do enough business, however, to keep both stores open, so they folded it back into the main restaurant. Ever since then, it has been possible to order the subs at the main restaurant, but they never bothered to update the menus (you'll notice if you look at them that they're ancient & skanky & a bunch of stuff is altered . . . at least they were last time I was there). Sometimes there's a paper menu up at the front counter with the sandwiches on it. We're partial to the bbq pork and the tofu. I seem to recall them having about 8 different meat options when the other store was open, but I loved the BBQ pork so much I rarely strayed from that.
Now, I will tell you that it has been probably 18 months since I've been to Dalat & had a sub, so I'm hoping that this is all still accurate (and I'd be heartbroken to hear that they'd stopped doing the subs). Somebody go check it out . . .
There are a lot of other tasty items on the 9N9 menu. So much so that I only get the Pho about 1 out of 4 visits. Take a look at the Specialties on the back of the menu. The descriptions don't really do a great job of conveying a clear idea of what will be served. But be a little adventurous and give some a try. I've done really well at this. Favorites there are the Sauteed Squid and Hot Pot Catfish. A friend ordered the big omelette/crepe thing which wasn't all that, but that's been the only dud so far.
Inside the menu, the topped rice noodle dishes are good. The beef stew is nice for a different sort of broth. And the house fried rice is great. Top it with a lot of fish sauce and red pepper sauce. It includes these little sliced cured sausages that have the best umami flavor when sauced like this. Good stuff.
Of the sandwiches, the BBQ pork is best. I'll often get a bag of these to go when visiting at lunch time. They package the veggies, cilantro a peppers in a separate baggie so everything stays fresh and non-soggy. Makes a great quick dinner.