From: Sophia Alem
Spicy 9 Sushi Bar and Asian Restaurant is located in a newly expanded space at 140 W. Franklin St., and is the place to go for sushi, noodles, hibachi and more in Chapel Hill.
Owner and UNC-Chapel Hill alum Mike Vikisreth grew up in the restaurant business watching his parents as they ran many different types of restaurants. The story of Spicy 9 begins during one of Vikisreth’s visits to Chapel Hill after graduation, when he saw the empty space of Franklin Street and immediately thought of its potential as a space of restoration. He called the rental office, and from there began the restaurant which still stands in the same location today.
To some extent, Spicy 9’s basic menu was already established, drawing on offerings from the catering businesses that Vikisreth and her parents had been running for years. From specialty sushi rolls and fresh sashimi to pad thai, hibachi and ramen, Spicy 9 is the place to get a wide variety of different types of Asian food inspired by popular dishes from different countries across the continent. Sushi rolls are definitely the standout menu on the article, partly because of the price: buy one, get one free, all day, seven days a week.
Many new customers are intrigued by the idea of such an offer on a food like sushi, which is traditionally considered much more enjoyable, upscale and expensive. It was Vikisreth’s intention to open this kind of restaurant in this location, sitting right in the middle of the main street of a popular college town. He wanted to give students access to more enjoyable foods like sushi on a budget that was accessible to them.
Beyond sushi suitable for college budgets, the menu offers a wide variety of flavors so every customer is sure to find something they like. Vikisreth’s personal favorites include the Philly Roll, Spider Roll, Rolls over Flowers and Thai massaman curry. Other popular menu items include pad thai, crab wontons, spring rolls, and fun UNC-themed sushi rolls such as the Tar Eel roll and the Franklin Street Fire roll.
Becoming a Chapel Hill staple that oldtimers will stop by on their return visits is important to Vikisreth. Alumni love the familiar feeling of returning to Chapel Hill, he said, and want to revisit all the places they once frequented during such a beautiful time in their lives. Eventually, the idea is that Spicy 9 will be one of those places for generations of Tar Heels.