Number Nine: Vietnamese the Generous Way
2009-12-03 · By Chandra Clewley
Dining at Number Nine
The quality of food we are putting into our bodies is becoming increasingly more important to Americans, and Long Beachers. Eating consciously can be a challenge when you are in a restaurant and do not have control of the ingredients in your food. I have found, even in grocery stores, it is difficult to find sustainable, local food that is grown in a conscionable way. One of the most wonderful things about Long Beach, I am beginning to realize, is the access we have to good quality fresh foods.
After seeing movies like Food Inc. and King Corn, I have taken a hard look at what I like to call “secret corn” in my diet. I have nothing against a delicious piece of corn-on-the-cob, but when you are unknowingly getting loads more corn in your diet due to the fact that your food contains corn starch, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and your meat is corn-fed, then how are you able to properly gauge how much corn (i.e. carbohydrates and sugars) you are getting in your diet? Thankfully, grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Food’s now carry grass-fed beef.
I have found a local restaurant that has a dedicated and conscious approach to the products that they use to cook with. I can’t take all the credit, Number Nine was recommended to me, but the first thing that struck me about their menu was the announcement that they “support humane and sustainable family farms that produce only 100% natural, free-range and grass-fed meats and poultry.”
I did some research on the number 9 in numerology and it is said to be associated with benevolence, tolerance and generosity. Maybe that is how this restaurant got it’s name? This column may be over; because this is the ONLY place I want to eat now.
There was only one waitress at Number Nine the day we came in to eat, but she managed to handle the small crowd with ease. The interior is very modern minimalist with a white canvas art installation on one wall, a metal installation on the other, and a lovely back wall with a large backsplash of tiles. The white walls and cement floors add to the minimalist interior, as do the round lights over head hanging in various lengths.
Mr. Right and I were so excited about the menu that we were tempted to order one of everything, but settled on the Pork and Shrimp Spring Roll appetizer ($7), the Chicken Pho ($8) and the Lemongrass Steak with Egg Roll Bun ($9).
The spring rolls were made with rice paper, vermicelli ride noodles, and were garnished with a tasty peanut sauce mixed with Sriracha sauce.
Number Nine’s Chicken Pho, which is a lovely lemon tinged broth that had the typical vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs and lots of peppers and bean sprouts, was light and very flavorful, with big chunks of chicken throughout. For some reason, I always struggle with the size of the meat pieces in pho, and wish they were smaller. Although typically more rare, at Number Nine, the chicken was cooked entirely through and perfectly, to my relief.
The Bun, which was my favorite, was a bowl of cold vermicelli rice noodles, lettuce, fried onions, an eggroll and 2 skewers of fantastic, richly flavored beef with a side of Sriracha. The food was clean and light.
There are at least five other things I would like to try here, and I plan on coming back to Number Nine with a bigger crowd next time so we are able to eat family style AND save room for dessert. They have a ginger-infused crème brulee and a pot au chocolat that I must try…and soon!
Number Nine is located at 2118 E. 4th St. from 12 p.m. For more information, check their website at www.numberninenoodles.com.