I was with a friend who was getting her hair did and while I was waiting, I stumbled into Nine & Nine Thai Kitchen. Outside it looks like many LA restaurants with the glass store front, health rating, pictures, specials, and of course the logo. On the inside it’s cozy with a very simple decor, and a great smell that I assume was a mixture of sauces, and garlic chili paste. There were black tables and chairs with couch booths and a mirror with some drawn on flowers. When I sat I was greeted by my server and she gave me the menu and a water.
The menu has over 100 options, which can be overwhelming to many people, especially in a foreign restaurant, but I saw duck on the menu and my mind was made. I ordered the BBQ Duck with a bed of Steamed Rice, but their menu has a plethora of pan-asian options including egg rolls, pad thai, sweet & sour chicken, etc.
When the duck arrived it was cut into strips with a nicely browned skin on a bed of rice with bok choy and a side of garlic sauce and ginger. The garlic sauce had Serrano peppers in it, which I wasn’t expecting but was pleasantly pleased by (They’re a hotter pepper than a Jalapeno, with a more crisp flavor). The duck itself was not my favorite, BUT I consider myself a duck conniseour and I expect my duck perfectly medium rare with blackened crispy skin. This duck would rate a B+ in my book though and some of the best asian style duck I’ve had in LA. The main issue I had was that the skins fat wasn’t fully rendered leaving a quarter inch layer of fat between the amazingly flavorful skin and the meat. The other problem was that the meat was a bit overcooked (it takes a lot longer to render fat from a duck or goose than any other bird, so the meat itself can suffer). It would have been perfect if the breast was pan seared on the skin with a weight on it, like a brick, then transfered to the barbeque. With the sauce the duck came back to life and I did really enjoy it even if I’m being a little harsh. The vegetables and rice were perfect though. The rice wasn’t overly sticky or soupy and it retained its clean texture and flavor. The bok choy was amazingly tendercrisp (tender with their original crunch and flavor). I assume they were blanched to seal in the color and flavor then probably quickly sauteed.
Overall as a complete dish it had a good balance between sweet, heat, and savory. The only heat in the dish was from the peppers in the sauce, which is meant to be a dipping sauce, but I poured it on the dish(just had to clarify where the heat came from). It also wasn’t one of their signature dishes that I’m sure are amazing if this was just a random dish. They may over specialize by having so many options on the menu so some dishes fall short while others shine brightly, but I was content with my meal and will definitely eat here again when I’m in the area. If you’re in Pasadena and want a nice relaxing meal I would definitely recommend Nine & Nine!