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Photo: Nightengale 9

Nightingale 9

Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Address and phone: 345 Smith St (347-689-4699)

Falling in love with Seersucker's fried chicken and Smith Canteen's fruit-filled pop tarts happened long ago. So when Arkansas-bred chef Rob Newton and partner Kerry Diamond, the duo behind these Carroll Gardens hangouts, debuted Vietnamese-inspired noodle shop Nightingale 9 this winter, I expected to be besotted. At first bite, I was yet again. Newton, who has long revered and studied Southeast Asian cooking (he worked with Floyd Cardoz at Tabla), brings his own Southern flair to the region's street food in dishes like the peanut- and fried bread-laced jasmine rice porridge with chicken and cilantro, and shaved collards brightened with coconut, lime, and fried shallots. A vermicelli bowl teeming with mushrooms, ramps, and pickled green papaya and threaded together by charred ramp dressing, does not beg for meat. But when the menu does take a carnivorous turn, as it does with chunks of caramel-lacquered pork belly, you're more than happy to go along. Spring for the caramelized palm sugar popsicles enrobed in benne seeds and peanut brittle to end the evening on a refreshing note. — Alia Akkam

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