New Vietnamese In Raleigh
From the N&O
Veteran restaurateur and Vietnamese chef Quan Tran has opened Pho Super 9 (6401 Triangle Plantation Drive; 919-878-1599; phosuper9.com) near Triangle Town Center mall. The chef owned Pho 9N9 in Durham before selling it three years ago, and was a partner in Pho Cali before that.
Tran has given the old Hibachi Express space in Plantation Point Shopping Center a thorough makeover, transforming it into a casual contemporary setting with full table service and a granite bar where, pending permits, beer and wine will be served.
The main draw, not surprisingly, is the Vietnamese beef noodle soup that is the restaurant's namesake. But it's by no means the only attraction. A six-page menu offers a broad cross-section of the Vietnamese repertoire, making Pho Super 9 the chef's most ambitious venture yet.
Pho Super 9 is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant's website is still under construction, but you can find them on Facebook.
I recently tried Pho Super 9 and had their Pho Tai. I actually thought that it was better than just ok. In fact, I might like it more than Pho Far East, which had been might go-to pho spot. Their broth is a bit lighter in style - I wouldn't call it terribly complex, but I thought that it was very satisfying and it worked well on a hot day. The large bowl seemed to be on par (size-wise) with anywhere else. Someone near us ordered the extra large and it was a tad smaller than a horse trough.
We ate there this weekend as well, our experience was pretty similar to Rockycat's. We had Ca Kho To and Banh Xeo (clay pot catfish and crepes) - the caramel sauce and fish were cooked properly which isn't always the case locally; and it's hard these days to find either on the menu especially at a pho place. The accompanying greens included authentically-Vietnamese "spicy mint" and what I call "fish herb" for lack of proper translation. A good meal (not great) and we'll return.
A quick review, since I did make it over for lunch last week. We ordered the Pho Tai (rare sliced steak) and the Com Bi Suon Cha Trung (rice plate with grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin, and egg). For the pho, the meat was requested to be served on the side so that it remain very rare. That posed no problem. My guess is that the "large" serving here is about the same as the "regular" in most places. The extra-large appropriately looks wash tub-sized. The broth was fine, not especially remarkable in any way.
There was nothing wrong with the com, either, that a little training for the servers wouldn't fix. Before ordering I asked if the rice was broken rice. I was assured that it was. It wasn't. Not a big deal, but I would have preferred correct information. The pork chop was thicker than usual, which was nice. That was also a problem, as no knife was provided and it was extremely awkward to wrestle politely with the meat. The pork chop won. Also, no fork was provided. IIRC, Vietnamese people do use a fork with rice and once you've poured nouc cham over it, it's very hard to use chopsticks for the rice. The other components were all pretty much the same as most other area restaurants.
There were other little service blips, such as taking way too long to get a glass of water and plates being cleared while we were still eating.
The staff is not Vietnamese, which I find interesting. When I was there, the staff consisted of one African-American, one Thai person, and one Latino. A lack of familiarity with Vietnamese cuisine and the general newness of the restaurant may have been at fault. That should clear up soon, I would think.
Very long story short, Pho Super 9 is fine. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to eat there, but if you're in the area there's no reason not to stop in. Pho Far East is still a better option.
They *just* opened up. I picked up their menu yesterday while I was at BJ's. It looks like most other Vietnamese menus in the area.
Menu headings are:
Pho - Beef Noodle Soup
The prices for all varieties of pho are
small - $7.99, large - $8.99. x-large - $9.99
I have no idea, though, how small a small might be.
Prices for bun are in the $8.50 - $10.00 range. Com prices are about $9.00. Specialties range from $9.99 - $25.99
I will probably get around to trying it at some point, but I've never much cared for Pho 9N9 and Pho Cali hasn't been too good in quite a while, so the chef's pedigree doesn't carry a lot of weight with me.
While I appreciate Greg Cox's new mini-reviews on the blog, they all seem to read like a press release. I don't know if that's because they all are press releases or that's just a writing style he's adopted for these blurbs.