Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bahn Mi

Zora and I love our Vietnamese sandwiches. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we got married. Now I’m not saying that we got married because of Vietnamese sandwiches. But the sandwiches were certainly on our mind when we made our plans to go to City Hall and get married.

I got a couple today. From the only place that makes them really good, on Mott Street just South of Grand. This place used to be crammed under the Mahattan bridge in a stall too small by any standard. Now they share space with a jewelery store. They also (I think) just raised the prices to $3.25 from $3. Noooo problem. Actually, the picture from July confirms the price raise. Good on 'em. I've never tried the chicken sandwich. It's probably great. But the pork is so unbeatably good I have never ordered the chicken.

I thought I’d take a few pictures to share.

Still wrapped. This is how it look after six hours and 12 miles of biking.

On the plate, they look pretty good. The cilantro is wilted, but again, these sandwiches aren’t fresh anymore. When I got them, they were very McDLT. The hot side, the bread and pork, was warm. And the cold side, the veggies, was cool.

Now we’re getting to the good stuff.

Here are the innards. Top to bottom, you’ve got carrots, daikon (I think), sliced jalapenos, cilantro, Vietnamese bologna, pork, and cucumber .

What you can’t see very well is the fish sauce (nuoc nam, probably with lime and sugar), Vietnamese hot sauce, and mayonnaise. Those are the elements. I don’t think the bologna adds to the sandwich, but it’s not bad. I don’t quite know what it is. It’s better than your standard processed meat product. But it is processed meat.

So here’s what’s special:

1) The pork, God bless it, is cooked and then placed in a broiler (or toaster oven) until the top layer gets nice and browned. Then this layer is scrapped off for the sandwiches and the pork is placed back in the oven to brown the next layer. So every little bit of pork is beautifully browned and flavorful.

2) The bread is warm is crispy. Thank you French colonialism. In the picture the bread is bit soggy, but that’s my fault and not the sandwich’s.

3) Mayonnaise. Did I already thank the French?

4) The cross section. Here it is:

The crispy vegetables are all wrapped in the Vietnamese bologna. So the sandwich has many very distinct parts. And depending on the angle of your bite, you can adjust your bite to suit your desires. You bite into the bread, you get some of the fish sauce, then the crispy layer of vegetables, and finally the wonderful pork.

It’s the best sandwich in the world. Bar none.

Don't trust me? Here’s someone else’s writing on bahn mi. And she wears an "I Love Pad Thai" t-shirt (swoon).


Anonymous said...

It's 138 Mott, to be precise. You are spot on -- it's exceptional. And I'll bet my freshly made sandwich was even better than your post-ride meal.

Fotaq said...

Ah, but it's not like my post-ride sandwich was my firt one. I ate one near there before I continued on my journey. They're so good I always get two or three.