I’m a believer in date nights. They don’t have to be anything elaborate but simple nights that get you out of your routine and away from the tasks you have to do around the house. They give you a break from the kitchen and dishes and give you an opportunity to reconnect, in a way. Usually once a week we go on one. Lately it has been a leisurely dinner out and sometimes a glass of wine or a cocktail too.
One of our favorite places is Number Nine in Long Beach for Vietnamese food. We used to live within walking distance which made it even more fun and convenient. I love not having to drive. It’s located in an area on 4th Street called “Retro Row” where there are a number of vintage shops which are fun for browsing. A couple restaurants in this area have created parklets which are becoming more popular throughout Long Beach. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s when a parallel parking spot(s) is taken over to provide either a green space for passive or active recreation or some other amenity to enhance the pedestrian experience on the street. The designs for these spaces vary and can be quite innovative. However, often the design is somewhat temporary and could be removed in case of an emergency. For a street that has shops, wine bars, restaurants, galleries, and an independent movie theater all within one block, before the two parklets, there was only spot for outdoor seating. Therefore, the street was mainly used for walking and there was little on the street level to engage the pedestrian. These parklets have helped to activate the street by making it more dynamic and lively. Personally, I always enjoy walking down these types of streets.
Number Nine is one of the restaurants that has commandeered the parking spot in front of their restaurant and created outdoor seating. There are heat lamps, pedestrian height lights, wood panels so the ground level is the same height as the curb and has a restaurant feel, and bamboo planted in containers to create a hedge and help to provide a separation between the dining space and the cars passing by. This picture below is an older picture, the bamboo has matured even more and really does create a nice screen.
The entrees are flavorful, filling and reasonably priced. The menu is fairly simple- various flavors of Phở (rice noodle soup), Bún (cold vermicelli rice noodles with egg roll), and Bánh mì (vietnamese sandwiches). All of these entrees have a vegetarian option.
On this night, as honestly, most nights we go there, I started with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and Cathrine a Shōchū/soju Lemonade.