hey everyone, time for another field report from vegankitten. this one comes all the way from long beach, and reviews some vegan pho at number nine noodles! here you go:
When Number Nine opened on Retro Row in Long Beach a few years ago, I couldn’t help myself from stopping in to see if there were any vegan options. The Vietnamese restaurant is housed in a narrow building with white walls, modern, minimalist decor and big sign advertising NOODLES & BEER, all of which is very appealing to me. I was so excited to see the tiny menu was teaming with vegan options, including one of my all time favorites – PHO!
Let’s start with drinks: They offer 6 beers, 5 white wines, 4 red wines and 4 cocktails. Their menu is like their decor – minimalist. Our waitress was about as far from friendly as they come. She was awkward, uncomfortable and seemed suspicious of me and my camera. She asked for our drink orders and I asked her for a red wine recommendation. Keep in mind, they have FOUR RED WINES and she really gave me a hard time. If I ask for a recommendation, just give me your personal opinion, I’m not going to send it back! After asking a bunch of questions about my wine preferences, I settled on the Red Rock Merlot. If I would have taken a few seconds to check Barnivore I would have known it was not vegan-friendly. Sad. My dining companion ordered the Tiger Beer, which is vegan and only $4.00!
We had a few choices for our appetizer, but we chose the vegetarian spring rolls and Russian root vegetable salad. The spring rolls were amazing! The delicate rice paper was packed with tofu, mushrooms, lettuce, vermicelli and carrots. They were crispy, fresh and perfectly chilled. They were served with the sweetest, most delicious peanut sauce and Sriracha sauce, which I avoided. The peanut sauce was so delicious that, if I hadn’t been on a date, I would have eaten it with a spoon.
Not surprisingly, we did not receive our russian root vegetable salad. The waitress didn’t write down our order and it was quite obvious to me from the get-go she wasn’t capable enough to take an order without writing it down. Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a rush trying to make a movie at The Art Theatre across the street and didn’t have time to ask for it.
My dining companion and I both ordered the vegetarian pho as our main course. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, generally with a beef broth. I’ve rarely seen vegan versions of this delicious dish and have only had the pleasure of eating it at one other place – Gingergrass in Silverlake. I like interactive food, so I think that may have something to do with my attraction to pho. Along with your soup, you are brought a plate of garnishes to add to your soup at your discretion. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I usually find garnishes odd and the pho garnishes are no exception. They are intimidating, but I’ve eaten this dish enough times that I now embrace them. Number Nine offers the traditional pho garnishes: basil, lime wedges, bean sprouts, chili peppers, one sweet paste (Hoisin) and one spicy paste (Sriracha).
Although almost impossible to eat, Number Nine’s pho is delicious. The rice noodles at the bottom of the bowl are tied in a knot. Armed with only a pair of chop sticks and an asian soup spoon, breaking them apart is like solving a Rubik’s Cube. I recommend bringing a hair tie, as well! The ingredients included mushrooms, cilantro, onions, huge chunks of carrot and radish and the same amazingly seasoned firm tofu found in the spring rolls. From our garnish plate, I added the juice of one lime wedge, a bunch of bean sprouts and all of the Hoisin Sause. It was so tasty and the perfect meal for a blustery Southern California day. And would you believe it’s only $8.00? I can’t…just look at the huge bowl!
This is the third time I have been to Number Nine and I’m definitely going back. The service has always left something to be desired, and this time was the worst, but the food truly makes up for it. Plus it’s located on the coolest street in Long Beach. Number Nine is located in the heart of Retro Row and a block away from the beginning of Alcohol Alley. What more could you ask for 🙂
Number NineTags: field report, long beach, noodles, pho, vegankitten
2118 East 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90814
Open Sun-Thu 12:00pm-9:30pm; Fri + Sat 12:00pm-10:00pm