BÁNH MÌ you did it again!
Besides bean n cheese burritos, my other favorite onthegoheartyextremelysatisfyingeconomicalsnack/meal is bánh mì, which is basically a French and Vietnamese culinary fusion creation. The baguette and pâté are the French part, the fresh jalapeño, cilantro, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots and usually whatever other main ingredient you pick is the Vietnamese part. But it is a totally Vietnamese staple without a doubt. Oh, they are also sometimes laced with fish sauce, like I said TOTALLY VIETNAMESE.
I might be biased about this delicious sandwich so expect a good review when I write about them. But there is a reason I’ve become bias, I’ve never had a bad one! I have tried bánh mì from at least 30 different establishments and they are always good. Perhaps some are better than others but I would return to every single eatery I’ve been to have their version again.
Today I was in Westminster, a mecca for Vietnamese cuisine, so of course I had to get one. I always seek out a random place I’ve never been to just to prove to myself that it will be good no matter where it’s from. I drive into this shopping center on the southeast corner of Westminster and Newland. Most of the signs of the businesses are in Vietnamese. I’m looking for the word bánh mì in any of them but I don’t see it. I do spot a bakery right in the corner of this strip mall, DŌNG HÚNG VIĒN, I knew they would sell them. I stroll right on over to it, walk in, and see the aesthetically delicious pastries both savory and sweet lining the glass display cases. And behind the the display case on the wall is the typical banner-like menu of pictures of all the different bánh mì they sell. As I attempt to order my sandwich I realize that no one there speaks English which instantly makes me feel like “oh yeah, this is gonna be reeeaaal good”.
No English is a definite good sign.
I ordered the sardines bánh mì. I believe it was only $2.20 before taxes, YES $2.20, ridiculously low price. My total bill was $5.75 with taxes. It included a chicken pâté chaud which is a puff pastry meat “empanada” and also a Thai iced tea. Great deal.
I didn’t notice any pâté in this bánh mì, it didn’t need it. I take my first bite, it’s everything I expected, sweet, salty, meaty, fishy. The baguette is fresh with it’s crusty exoskeleton. The jalapeños are spicy, very hot actually, I love it (good thing I got the Thai iced tea.)
The earthiness and freshness of the cilantro and crisp cucumber, the sweet and sour tones of the pickled julienne cut daikon and carrots, the tomato sauce from the canned sardines, everything is perfect. The sardine’s sauce drenches the bread turning the white fluff into an almost gelatinous texture that just spreads and dissolves into my tongue penetrating my taste buds.
As you can tell, I’m extremely satisfied.