In continuing celebration of the Lunar New Year, today's 'Wich of the Week hails from Vietnam, which kicked off the 15-day Tet celebration last week. Bánh mì sandwiches are like the Vietnamese version of a sub, and a delicious side effect of French colonization.
The best thing about bánh mì? They usually cost less than three bucks. But even if they weren't such a bargain, bánh mì would easily be one of my favorite sandwiches. For my latest San Francisco-bánh mì adventure,
Built on a fresh crispy French roll, bánh mì combines traditional Vietnamese flavors, such as cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, and hot peppers, with your choice of meat. Some of the most popular include barbecued chicken and pork meatball. The rolls are usually dressed with mayo, and the sweet marinade on the meat also acts as a condiment.
For years I've been going to Saigon Sandwich Shop in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood — it actually made the best sandwiches in America list! — but last week I decided to try Baguette Express up the street. I ordered two sandwiches at around $2.50 and 10 inches apiece: the bánh mì ga (BBQ chicken, pictured above) and the bánh mì ca moi (sardine, below). I would highly recommend the sardines if you're into that sort of thing, while the chicken was some of the sweetest, moistest meat I've had on a sandwich.
I think I still like Saigon Sandwich more — its sandwiches are delightfully overstuffed — but the Baguette Express bread was better: crusty and delicious. If you're ever in SF, you should definitely stop by one of these hole-in-the-wall shops. If you can't make it to SF (or Vietnam), you can also get great bánh mì in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, LA, and most other major US cites.