Restaurant Review: No. 9 Restaurant in Cebu City
Looking for a homey Spanish cuisine in Cebu with a twist? Read on. We’re off to dig out a hole-in-the-wall establishment located within an affluent community on a side street easily accessible from Mango Avenue, No. 9 Restaurant.
Credo at No. 9. Charcoal grilled 12 hour pork belly, arugula, salsa verde. photo from FB Page
Here are 5 reasons why you should pamper yourself with a hearty meal at this lovely 30-seater bistro:
1. No. 9 Restaurant has a unique historical charm.
A dream materialized by the Martinez brothers, this 50-year old ancestral house has been part of their long and formative childhood years. Iñaki recalls of sharing a good meal as a family using the very same dishes they offer, a tribute to those sentimental gastronomic moments when they were little kids.
What you see upon entry
As a team, Iñaki minds the financial aspect of the business while Pepin, leads the kitchen with a creative passion for cooking.
What I loved about this place was its ability in transforming from an old home to something that could adapt with the changing times. We’ve seen century-old houses with rich historical value that bear witness to ancient Cebu torn apart by newly-constructed malls and skyscrapers due to widespread globalization in the metro.
View from the alfresco area
Thanks to these two gentlemen, we can still see a deep-rooted ancestral house in all its magnificent glory with a wonderful meal to revel in.
2. No. 9 gives off an aura of time at a standstill.
A marriage of the old and the new, you’ll understand what I mean when you see its classic façade complementing its contemporary design.
As you enter, try looking up at the ceiling and you’ll see a light enclosed in an orange interwoven web, casting a star-like shadow on top.
Focusing on the establishment’s interiors, its dominant black, white and gray palette perfectly blends with its brown wooden fixtures.
Door reused as table
If you have an observant eye, you can see antique doors and walls, remnants from the old house, re-incorporated as dining tables or decorative ornaments for accent.
In front of you is their mini-bar with a good wine selection perfect for casual after work chats.
Childhood portrait of Iñaki and Pepin
On your right is a cute childhood portrait of the two brothers with an orange backdrop. That’s the one and only time where Iñaki was actually taller than Pepin, as they always joked about comparing their height, the usual love between siblings. Laughs.
Looking ahead, their bottom to top glass windows, revealing the green outdoor lawn and garden occupied by black metal chairs and tables with strategic overall lighting, compensate for its small functional area.
Moreover, the restaurant’s laid-back and quiet atmosphere make a perfect venue for family events, business meetings and most especially romantic dates.
And oh, don’t forget to check out their restrooms, they are immaculately splendid!
3. No. 9 serves Spanish-Mediterranean-Latino fusion cuisine.
For our cócteles, we had the Cocojito (Php140) and Sangria Blanca (Php160). Both these signature cocktails delighted us with surprising yet subtle bursts of fruity and citrusy flavors in every sip. It was very refreshing and pairs perfectly with some of the more greasy dishes.
Sangria Blanca and Cocojito
For our tapas (appetizers), we had the Lengua (Php300) and Huevos Turcos (Php140). I never thought that pan-fried ox tongue would taste great as toppings for bread! The Huevos Turcos was also an interesting experience despite just being an egg dish with its excellent flavor combination.
For our ración (small plates), we had the crowd-favorite Fideo Negro (Php320) and the ever-juicy Cerdo (Php350). The Fideo Negro’s creamy taste was to die for! I can’t help but smile after tasting a forkful of broken noodles with chorizo, squid, and aioli. Make sure to take a selfie with a huge grin after devouring the whole plate. Laughs.
The Cerdo, on the other hand, was also very impressive knowing that it takes at least 12 hours to prepare it! Cooked in a sous vide, the lean meat with its balanced distribution of spices stood out from all the pork belly recipes I’ve ever tasted so far.
No. 9 Restaurant Menu
All their dishes looked simple, yet cooked with a lot of thought and careful consideration. Their small servings are meant for sharing and also give you the opportunity to try many of the listed items. The high price was understandable given the time, effort and detail they put in on its preparation. Frankly, our Tuesday dinner experience was really outstanding!
4. No. 9 assures customers with good service.
When we arrived, I asked for their manager. The server, Melvin, politely responded that they don’t actually have a manager since they operate equally as a team. Impressive!
The King of Sinulog with Mr. Iñaki Martinez
He also advised me that Iñaki, the part owner, was on his way to meet me.
Since I was not familiar with the cuisine, I needed Melvin’s help regarding the food. He was so knowledgeable with the tiny details about the cocktails and the dish preparation that at one time I thought he was the bartender and the sous chef!
No. 9 Team
Also, Christine with her sweet smile ensured that everything was up to par and was also very eager to capture our moments inside the restaurant.
Ox tongue, with an herb mustard and brioche photo from FB Page
Elmer, on the other hand, was also very proud of their bestsellers and related the feedback of other customers to me regarding the smile-ruining Fideo Negro! Laughs.
5. Why No. 9?
It is the building’s original street address. I guess you knew that already.
Signboard by the road
“Overall, we had an amazing Spanish fusion experience at this 50-year-old ancestral house. I’ll surely come back to have a taste of their mouth-watering steak and delectable desserts. This time for sure, I’ll be in for a romantic date but I’ll just skip on the Fideo Negro. Haha! Music maestro!”
No. 9 Restaurant
No. 9 E. Benedicto Street, Cebu City 6000, Philippines
(+63 32) 253 9518
Opens at 5:00 pm – 1:00 am