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Dec 21, 2009 02:59 PM

Raleigh - An Chuan Plaza at Brentwood/Capital

In early December the Vietnamese grocery & food court closed with a sign announcing new owners.

The grocery has reopened! Right now they are a bit low on fresh items - frozen is completely empty. The front of the store has been rearranged a little. The store feels cleaner with the sprucing up.

They will be having a grand opening in a week or so. English seems to be no longer an issue. They will still make banh mi. There is now signage for 3 variations, looks like the price has gone up .50 - still reasonable! The fellow I spoke with said the food court will reopen in 4 months or so.

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  1. Was in the grocery last week. The cashier said that the restaurant should re-open this week, hopefully. She also said that the new owners are from Greensboro. I don't know much about Vietnamese food in Greensboro but the Triad folk on this board seem to like their Vietnamese choices well enough.

    I just hope that the broth on the pho will be as good as it used to be.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockycat

      Yes, please report back on the restaurant. I'm anxiously awaiting the status of the pho. 9N9 and Cali Pho just aren't doing it for me.

    2. re: the restaurant re-opening later this week -- does this mean that we cannot get banh mi there in the meantime? Was hoping to go tomorrow (Wed).

      2 Replies
      1. re: bluepig1

        It looked like they have a small sandwich area inside the grocery, up front by the registers. So you should be able to order.

        The food court had a place making them too - it is still closed.

        Please report back on how they taste!

        1. re: meatn3

          Sorry for lack of follow up - given uncertainty of whether An Chuan sandwiches would be available, we went to Green Basil at Capital Blvd and New Hope Church Rd as our old standby for banh mi. I think they are a little more expensive ($3 each) than An Chuan but I've almost always found the quality at Green Basil to be terrific as long as they are using fresh bread that day. When they're on, they're fantastic. (Only once have I found them to be retoasting day-old bread, and so the bread was inappropriately crusty on the outside and hard-ish on the inside, vs crusty outside and soft inside -- I guess I can understand the dilemma when trying to manage inventory without wasting ingredients, but you can really tell the difference in quality).

      2. I got a second-hand report on the Vietnamese this week. It is now called Pho 99 and, reportedly, the quality of the broth is back up to where it used to be. The prices are slightly higher now.

        The grocery store section is currently closed and actively undergoing remodeling. This all seems quite promising.

        1. Bump up since I finally had a chance to get to Pho 99.

          I'm a little conflicted about the place now. I went in a group of 4 and had a chance to taste everything we ordered. N.B. We're all non-Asian, two very familiar with Vietnamese food, two not at all.

          We ordered a small pho with the meat on the side, beef stew soup, bahn mi, the "everything but the kitchen sink" com plate, cafe sua da, and che ba mau. I'm going to nitpick here.

          The broth on the pho was really good without any additions. Very tasty. The small size seems to be about 2/3 the size it was previously and the amount of meat was ridiculously small. This is as compared to what was served by the previous owners.
          The broth on the beef stew was also delicious on its own. The diner complained that the meat was very fatty but I tend to see that as less of a a problem. The French bread served on the side was very airy but had a crisp crust and in general was good.
          I was not too satisfied with the com plate. The rice was not broken rice, just regular rice, maybe jasmine but I honestly couldn't tell. To me, that's a huge problem. If it's not broken rice, most of the flavor is missing. Speaking of missing, the pork skin and the egg loaf were missing from my plate. Considering that the pork skin is my favorite item in that dish I was very unhappy. I also paid $1.50 above the regular price to get all the additions. Having two of the 5 absent was not nice. The size of the pork chop was average for this kind of dish but this particular marinade was not to my taste. No lemongrass, heavy on the star anise. And although there was plenty of food on the plate, it's size was about 2/3 of what it used to be at the same price.
          The bahn mi was ordered without mayo or cilantro but with jalapenos. It arrived without the jalapenos. Again, bread was good, rest was just so-so. Big spears of cucumber overwhelmed the sandwich. The daikon and carrots were so lightly pickled you could barely taste them.
          Cafe sua da ordered hot was sorta lukewarm but there's no way thie Vietnemese crack could ever be bad.
          Che ba mau came over whole ice cubes rather than shaved or crushed ice making it difficult to eat. Also, in my limited experience, the green jelly strips are usually flavorless. These tasted distinctly of green apple. Not necessarily a bad thing but a little odd with the mung beans and coconut milk.

          So I don't know. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about Pho 99. I believe they have a "non-Asian problem," for one. One of my friends who has eaten there since the change says that this was the second time his salad plate was missing the ram rau when he clearly saw it on the plates of Asian diners. I also wonder if that's the same reason the pork skin and egg loaf were missing from my dish.

          Decor-wise, it looks about the same as always but some tables had tableclothes. It was freezing in there today and even the staff were wearing jackets indoors. There were two staffers today, a man who speaks accentless English and a woman who does not speak much English at all.

          The two of us who weren't familiar with Vietnamese food loved the experience. One now swears to be a fan of Vietnamese and can't wait to return. The two of us with more familarity just aren't sure. That broth was mighty good but the rest of the meal was just kinda "eh."

          Anyone else been recently?

          4 Replies
          1. re: rockycat

            I just ate there this afternoon after lunch time, so it was pretty quiet, but they were very friendy and I didn't not sense the 'non-asian' predujice Rockycat experienced. I had a big bowl of the beef pho. The broth was great, in fact, I'm usually more noodle focused, but I slurped away. The side veggies, limes etc were all fresh and abundant. My companion had the same thing, so I didn't get to try anything else.

            I will definitely go back to taste the Bahn Mi. I am curious, did you ask your server to give you what was missing from you plate? You should of instead of, no pun intended, stewing in it.

            Also I popped in the grocery store, it's fully functioning, light on the produce side. The other stores in the court were closed.

            1. re: RaleighRocker

              As a matter of fact, yes. We were there maybe two days ago. The Offspring and I shared the com plate. She asked if it had broken rice and was told no, they only have one rice. Odd, since the market up front carries broken rice. I made sure to ask that it come with everything listed on the menu, as it didn't the last time. Spouse specifically asked for ram rau in both Vietnamese and English. He described it, drew it, did everything but go buy it himself. No luck getting it, though.

              Honestly, I'm not sure I care anymore. Although the quality of the food had been slipping before the sale of the restaurant, prior to that it was quite good. Neither of us feel it is now nearly as good as it had been previously. Also, although the prices haven't risen, the portion size has shrunk quite a bit. We're now looking for a new Vietnamese restaurant.

            2. re: rockycat

              My SO picked up a bahn mi from there and I ate it several hours later from the fridge.
              Mine had everything. Rockycat described it accurately. Huge cucumber wedges, no pickle flavor in the carrots/daikon, meats were so-so. The mayo on mine tasted just like Miracle Whip. Bread was good, but the filling was light to the extent that there was quite a number of bread only bites.

              This is no longer the best in the area. My search resumes...

              1. re: meatn3

                meatn3 thanks for the review of the bahn mi. if you find a good one, report back.

            3. Use to eat here before the newest owners. Food was always pretty good. New owners came in and I wanted to try their banh mi. First off, it was delicious! Maybe the best I've ever had. Kept going for a few weeks specifically for this. Then one time I went and they used stale baguettes. And it was hard as a rock. I was pretty disappointed but didn't write them off yet. Also, their fresh spring rolls were disappointing as well. They didn't even put shrimp in it. Maybe they forgot but either way, they didn't add mint and the peanut sauce wasn't good. Then I went with my wife recently and I ordered my favorite vietnamese dish which no one has ever F'd up, Bun Thit Nuong - vermicilli, grilled pork, veggies. It was awful. The pork was too thick, I always like the thin cut filet's which are grilled perfectly. That wasn't the worst of it though, they used the thick vermicilli and they over cooked it so it was slimy and mushy. There is no excuse for over cooking vermicilli, you boil water and then turn the water off and cook the noodles for 3 minutes. The owners are the nicest people though and I hope they read this so they can fix these problems because they should figure somethings up when no one is in there eating.

              3 Replies
              1. re: tv1530

                Sadly, as much as we used to like this place, we've finally given up. Craving Vietnamese last week, we decided to give Pho Cali one last try. Emphasis on last. The food was truly bad and the restaurant was empty save one other table at 12:30.

                Please, if you're listening out there - Somebody please, please open a decent Vietnamese restaurant convenient to N. Raleigh!

                1. re: rockycat

                  Have you tried Pho Far East up off of Capital? It's not the best we've had but consistently good. Brought a group of 13 their the other night, many who were first timers, everyone was pretty happy. The starters we've tried are nothing to special (really avoid the calamari), but the soups are quite good- try the one with "Picked fish", you'll raise eyebrows but tell them you're sure. The lettuce wraps with grilled pork is particularly good.

                  Pho Far East
                  4011 Capital Blvd Ste 133, Raleigh, NC 27604

                2. re: tv1530

                  Hey all, I'm new here to Chowhound but totally agree with tv1530. The bun was really disappointing today. The old owners used to put out some good food but Pho 99 seems to have dropped things in quality at higher prices. My gosh, that's not what I expect from a hole in the wall, VN eatery.

                  Still prefer Pho Cali to Pho Far East and agreed, we need a better VN restaurant here. Green Basil is ok but I think it's been tweaked for American palates...

                  Green Basil
                  3901 Capital Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27604

                  Pho Far East
                  4011 Capital Blvd Ste 133, Raleigh, NC 27604

                  Pho Cali
                  3310 Capital Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27604