Ninth Street Bakery, as the name suggests, used to be on Ninth Street, where Elmo’s is currently located. One of my earliest memories is of walking there with my mom and getting a bear claw, a slashed chocolate croissant laced with frosting. I tried one earlier this week to see if it lived up to my memories, but sadly their baked goods just can’t compete with Guglhupf. However, I found out that on Wednesdays they serve a vegetarian Sri Lankan lunch at their current location in downtown Durham. Although it sounded amazing, I was pretty skeptical about whether it could trump the $5 vegetarian plate at Bahn’s.
Technically, “Asanga’s Cafe” starts at noon, but we got there about 15 minutes early to get a table. They only make the dishes once, so make sure you get there before 12.45.
The basmati rice kottu (rice, green beans, raisins, sliced almonds, carrots, scallions, and tons of parsley) is served with a few slices of buttery toast, arugula, and lentil soup, and it’s phenomenal – slightly sweet at first and a lingering spiciness later, with tons of complementary flavors. The toast was perfect, and the lentil soup got the job done, although it suffers from being so close to Toast. My only complaint was that I could have eaten about four plates of kottu and still want more, but $6.50 is a fair price for one of the best lunches in downtown Durham, vegetarian or otherwise.
Ninth Street Bakery is sort of hidden – it’s basically a loading dock across the street from Toast, where Main and East Chapel Hill St. split. As long as you can find it and make it there in time, you should make every effort to try it out. By the way, has anyone tried their pizza?
Asanga’s Cafe at Ninth Street Bakery (map)
Wednesdays at noon sharp