The team behind Mama Linh's food truck will open a new Vietnamese bar and restaurant on Wednesday. And you won't need to constantly check your phone for its location.
Hem Nine Nine is a stationary spin-off that's named after the Vietnamese word for laneway and the street number of its address: 99 Glebe Point Road, Glebe.
"When you're travelling in Vietnam, the better foods – the tastier foods – you'll find in the alleyways, where the locals are cooking for the locals," owner Peter Wu says.
That's the street-food atmosphere he hopes to evoke in his new eatery. This vibe is helped by the venue's elongated shape, like a laneway, and he's added a blitz of graffiti to make the interiors feel more gritty and urban.
Like with Mama Linh's, the menu will be shaped by his mother Xiao Linh Meng's traditional recipes (you "don't want to mess with" family staples, he points out) and of-the-moment influences that Wu has picked up. The new venture also combines Meng's 20 years of restaurant experience (including her time at Tan Ky Noodle House in Cabramatta), with the relationships that Wu has cultivated while running Mama Linh's.
With the Vietnamese food truck making regular appearances at inner-west breweries such as Young Henrys, Batch Brewing, Willie The Boatman and Wayward Brewing, it's no surprise that Wu hopes to offer their booze on tap at Hem Nine Nine.
"Who wouldn't like an ice-cold tap craft beer on a hot sunny day with grilled pork skewers?" he says.
And that's not the only local business that Hem Nine Nine will showcase.
"We've got our own ice-cream flavour that we're getting made by the guys at Hakiki. That's something we're still finalising and flavour-testing – Turkish hand-churned ice-cream done with Vietnamese flavours," Wu says.
Wu discovered Hakiki's ice-cream while running the Mama Linh's food truck. He had an ice-cream craving and happened to drive by the Newtown dessert bar on its opening day.
Hem Nine Nine's savoury dishes are influenced by Vietnamese classics and take flight from there: a beef tartare dish that's a play on bo tai chanh (rare beef salad), a beef cheek and ox tongue version of bo kho (a Vietnamese tomato stew), and a citrus-dressed salmon sashimi with smoked egg roe, garnished with deep-fried salmon skin that resembles corn chips.
Wu's mother's "phenomenal" pho has been given a new spin with bone marrow that's been soaked in broth overnight. "It gets roasted in the oven and just before it's served, it gets flame-torched, so it gets a nice colour and aroma," Wu says. "Kind of like what the sushi chefs do with salmon belly sushi before they serve it, they flame-torch the mayonnaise so it gives a slightly smoky finish."
Dishes will be priced from $6 to $18 – designed to encourage street-style snacking and menu exploration.
"When you're in Vietnam in the alleyway, you might grab a bun from the bun cart lady for a couple of bucks, that'll keep you going for an hour or so, and then you'll go, 'I'm feeling peckish', and then you might have some banh xeo," Wu says.
Open Wed-Sun 4pm-late.
99 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, 02 9571 8887, facebook.com/HemNineNine