Pho 9n9 Vietnamese Restaurant has become a convenient stop over the years for those working in RTP, as it sits on the corner of TW Alexander and Miami Boulevard. For the past 2 years, Pho 9n9 has been running under the new management of Hong Nguyen. Most of the interior has stayed the same, but the new configuration of tables allows for more customers to be seated and makes for a less cluttered dining room. It reminds me of Vietnamese restaurants in bigger cities, where there are several tables around the perimeter with longer tables in the middle to allow for communal seating. Despite the hectic lunch crowd of RTP slowing down service, the staff maintained a smile while trying their best to quickly wait on customers.
To start off, the egg rolls ($4.00), or chả giò, were the traditional Vietnamese appetizer I was hoping for. They were hot, crisp and crunchy. Served alongside nuoc mam, the egg rolls were filled with well-seasoned meat, shredded carrots and mushrooms. The meat filling made for a Vietnamese classic done well.
The Pho Tai ($9.50) was a mixed bag for me. Noticeably better in both taste and presentation (served with the proper pho condiments of thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapeno slices and lime wedges) than the previous owners, it still wasn’t great. The broth was extremely salty without any depth of flavor. Although served piping hot, the soup broth barely covered the noodles and made it awkward to eat since the bowl was less than half full of liquid. The sliced onions garnishing the pho also tasted old, evident from their slimy texture.
The Pork Vietnamese Sandwich (Medium, $5.99) was a very Americanized version of a traditional bánh mì. I was expecting the sandwich to be filled with traditional Vietnamese pork lunch meats and condiments. However, it was filled with sweet and savory seasoned stir-fried pork, romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, cilantro and cucumber. Although this was not at all what I would consider a bánh mì, it made for a tasty sandwich.
Pho 9n9 Combination Rice Platter ($11.95) with a pork chop, pork skin and sunny side up egg was another Americanized version of a traditional Vietnamese rice plate. Usually marinated with lemongrass, the pork was seasoned the exact same as the Pork Vietnamese Sandwich. It wasn’t bad, but I was expecting the flavor to be a little more creative considering this was a completely different menu item. It was also a bit disappointing that the sunny side up egg as promised by the menu was actually an over medium egg. The runny yolk from a sunny side up egg is one of the best parts to mix into the rice. However, this wasn’t really possible with the over medium egg.
All in all, the current management has turned things around for the better at Pho 9n9. However, despite the new management and time to work out the initial snags, they still have a lot of little details and improvements to make before they can be considered a contender amongst other Vietnamese restaurants in the area.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @