Listen, after more than a semester at Duke, I am growing tired of Marketplace dinner every night. Don’t get me wrong, the 1892 Grille has some amazing curly fries and I appreciate a good Durham Market dinner here and there. But, recently I’ve been looking for any opportunity to mix things up.
If you’ve ever walked around Ninth Street, you’ve probably passed Secrets Pho & Noodle Bar. Founded in January of 2020 and clocking in at a roughly eight minute walk from East Campus, the Ninth Street location offers a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes.
When you first enter, the atmosphere is bright and welcoming. My friend and I ordered at the cash register and after receiving signs with our order numbers, sat down for dinner. There were a plethora of options but we both settled on pho for our meals. I ordered steak pho in beef broth and she chose shrimp pho in vegetable broth. The menu was clear and the prices ranged from $6 to $14, providing a few different options for a variety of budgets. In addition to ordering for either dine-in or takeout at the register, Secrets provides the additional options of calling ahead or ordering online for those who desire a quicker process. While we elected to dine in for our dinner, the multitude of options would have made it easy for us to do either.
Our food came shortly after we seated ourselves. We received our bowls and utensils alongside a plate of fresh garnishes, hoisin and sriracha chili sauces. Before adding any of the additions, we both tried the broth. The beef broth was light with a solid mixture of strong flavors, instantly warming me up from the cold weather outside. It completely tied together the various components intermixing within the bowl. After adding the garnishes and the sauces, my meal became a medley of delicious and perfectly meshed flavors as I continued to eat.
We stayed for about an hour, talking and continuing our meal. While there was a steady flow of people coming in and ordering, the atmosphere remained comfortable and never too crowded. For those who are particularly COVID-cautious, the option to choose your own seat ensures plenty of space between you and other diners. Additionally, if you would prefer to not eat indoors at all, the aforementioned takeout options would also be a great choice. Although traditionally, pho is consumed in the early to mid-morning in Vietnam, it absolutely worked for dinner and left us both happily full. Having a warm meal after a frigid day spent running around campus was exactly what we both needed in the evening.
While I’d highly recommend the pho for those looking to give Secrets Pho & Noodle Bar a try, the menu has a variety of other great options. For a smaller bite or a starter, their shrimp spring rolls or mini wonton soup, both $6.75, would be great choices that also leave room for other things on the menu. Personally, I’m partial to the steak pho, but the Going Green pho, which features tofu and vegetables in a vegan broth, is a great option for plant-based diets. Next time I visit, I’m planning on trying one of their four Banh Mi sandwich options or the Singapore noodles ($13.95) from their selection of stir fry choices. For those who head for an earlier brunch or lunch, try the Viet coffee alongside your meal. It not only will wake you up super quickly, but its robust, dark roast flavor makes it a wonderful way to start your day.
After experiencing a meal at Secrets Pho & Noodle Bar, it’s clear how the owners have managed to find success at not just their Durham location, but also their additional locations in Raleigh and Cary. Their motto is “something for everyone” and the variety of delicious options reflects that. The Durham location is open daily from 11am-9pm, only closing on Wednesdays.
With great food, good prices, and a location within walking distance of East Campus, anyone looking to try some new restaurants around Duke should add Secrets Pho & Noodle Bar to their lists.
You can learn more about Secrets Pho & Noodle Bar from their website and Instagram page and use this link to order online.
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