Southern cooking isn’t too far off from Southeast Asian.
The Carroll Gardens restaurateurs behind Smith Street’s Southern-American comfort food favorite Seersucker are tackling the vivid flavors of Vietnam in their newest eatery Nightingale 9.
Chef Rob Newton, an Arkansas native, said he learned to use ingredients such as fresh ginger and coconut milk more than a decade ago in culinary school, and continued to experiment within the cuisine ever since — even taking a month-long journey last summer to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to find inspiration for the restaurant’s menu, indulging in local fare, shopping at the markets, and learning from homegrown chefs.
“I’m not positioning myself as any kind of an expert, but I have a love and an understanding of the cuisine — that’s really all we’re trying to do,” he said.
Nightingale 9’s chilled fluke and crab salad with fresh coconut ($13) is inspired from a dish Newton had on the island of Phu Quoc, the chef said. Other dishes featured on the seasonal menu are duck leg with cucumber, basil, and curry dressing ($15) and caramelized Berkshire pork with rice, imported peppercorn, lemongrass, and quail eggs ($15).
Newton said that his soulful southern culinary roots do come out in his cooking, especially when it comes to the use of country ham and leafy greens, but that the food at the Smith Street restaurant with bench-style seating consists primarily of authentic Vietnamese fare.
“It’s Vietnamese at its core, but there are some southern touches in there because that’s who I am,” said Newton. “But it’s almost entirely dedicated to Vietnamese food.”
The eatery, whose was name was taken from the old Brooklyn telephone exchange NI9 in the prefix letter code days, is currently only open for dinner.
Nightingale 9 [345 Smith St. between Carroll Street and First Place in Carroll Gardens, (347) 689–4699, www.nighti