The culinary minds behind the successful Mama Linh food truck have opened up their first bricks and mortar Vietnamese eatery, Hem Nine Nine. The little laneways of Vietnam is where the best street food can be had, and this is how the name Hem Nine Nine (or Laneway 99) aka 99 Glebe Point Road, was derived.
Hem Nine Nine is located on the popular restaurant strip in Glebe. A modern Vietnamese eatery, decked out with a combination of old and new, eclectic and chic.
There are 3 main areas. The front of the restaurant, which has a fabulous window seat, standard tables, and a bar. Further inside the restaurant, there is a short staircase leading to a loft style seating area with homemade bicycle themed tables! Head down the corridor and you’re met with another area out the back.
We started our Vietnamese journey with a refreshing beer. Naturally, it was 333 Premium Export Beer, a popular Vietnamese beer.
Our starters were roast duck pancakes and grilled ox tongue. These are must order entrées to have with a bevvy or two.
The roast duck pancake had succulent, tender roasted duck, cucumber, daikon, kimchi, and smoky hoisin on a toasted pancake. It felt like a cross between peking duck pancakes and soft tacos, but with banh mi vibes with the cucumber and daikon. Delicious. And that hoisin sauce was next level.
The standout however, was twice cooked ox tongue, grilled in spicy XO sauce. So incredibly good. Tender thin slices of ox tongue that literally melt in your mouth. Fabulous texture and fabulous flavours. Definitely a must order dish!
The bone marrow dish was owner and chef Peter Wu’s idea of bringing a Vietnamese feel to the western way of eating bone marrow. Grass fed and hormone free beef bone marrow bones are brined in pho master-stock and then oven roasted. It’s served with ‘pho’ salad, bread, cider pickled chilli and leeks. The bone marrow is always a crowd pleaser but with the subtle flavours of beef pho infused into them, they’re all the more enjoyable. Coupled with crunchy pickled vegetables, this is the ultimate indulgent dish and yet another must order dish!
The crab slider here is a little different to the many other crab sliders out there. The deliciously crunchy soft shell crab is encased in a crispy shallot bun (think deep fried mantou type of bun – but with shallots), and with an abundance of pickled cucumber, baby radish and smothered in a preserved cumquat tartare sauce. Absolutely divine!
The Pho Tasting Paddle is a serving of 3 smaller sized pho portions. Ideal if you want to taste a little bit of everything. Beef pho, free range chicken pho, and a vegan mushroom trio pho. This was the surprise of the day. As a beef pho addict, I was absolutely blown away by the mushroom pho. The broth was slightly sweet whilst still being savoury, and there was a generous amount of shiitake, king brown and enoki mushrooms. Despite being a very passionate carnivore, I highly recommend trying the mushroom pho!
All three pho dishes were delicious with a great depth to the broth that can only be achieved through long hours on the stove. The master-stock used in a lot of their broth based dishes is an 18 hour stock. Your typical pho broth around Sydney tends to range from 6-10 hours. You can taste the difference here.
The squid ink seafood fried rice was another outstanding dish that amazed us. We’ve all had the squid ink pasta before… but squid ink fried rice? We had our doubts. Well those doubts were totally blown out of the water. The chef’s special fried rice with salmon, baby octopus, calamari, and prawns tossed through with wok-charred squid ink worked. It really really worked. So much flavour!
A Vietnamese meal would not be complete without some Vietnamese coffee. Having travelled across Vietnam, we’re big fans of the traditional Vietnamese coffee. And in conjunction with Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream in Enmore, they have come up with an exclusive Vietnamese coffee ice cream just for Hem Nine Nine. With a sprinkling of coffee beans and some wafer sticks, this is the perfect end to our epic Vietnamese feast.
The vision that owner and chef Peter Wu had was to take the much loved traditional Vietnamese dishes and flavours and add a modern and unique twist. With his mum in the kitchen cooking alongside him, the dishes that arrive at your table are not only delicious, but they’re interesting and different too. Reminiscent of traditional Vietnamese dishes, but not exactly as you know them. So next time you’re looking for a Vietnamese meal, give the Mama Linh/Hem Nine Nine crew a try. Your taste buds will thank you for it!
Hem Nine Nine
99 Glebe Point Road,
Glebe, NSW 2037
Contributed by Susan, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys