Friday, March 30, 2012

Bánh Mì Saigon

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in TriBeCa, reporting for the very first time for jury duty.  I found myself actually looking forward to it; I’d never done it before and it was a chance to do something a little different on a workday.  I got to walk a whole new path to my destination, and I got to revisit my old high school stomping grounds for lunch.  

That first day of jury duty was itself unremarkable but for the long lunch break we were granted.  Though the official lunch hours were 1 – 2, by noon it became obvious that the judges were not going to be calling anybody, and we were told that we were free to go and be back by two.  Now, if I’d had a mere hour to procure my lunch, I’d have made a decision lickety-split and been done with it.  That I found myself with two hours made the decision that much tougher.  It was also excessively gorgeous that day, and I found myself ambling around, not paying much mind to my rumbling belly.  I fetched some horchata, and set to wandering.  

I passed by so many potential lunch destinations, but, in typical fashion, couldn’t settle on a single one.  I resisted the pull of Morgan's Market, a stalwart of my Stuy days, where I sat on the stoop outside with my grilled cheese deluxe (with tomatoes, obvs)  far more frequently than I'd like to admit.  So I strolled, and suddenly it was 1:30, and I was forced to make a decision lest my fellow potential jurors be forced to listen to my stomach grumble angrily at me for the next few hours (which ended up being only about hour as we were released way early; #jurydutywin).  Like the professional procrastinator I am, once under the gun, I was able to quickly settle on what I wanted.  And that was a bánh mì.  I often crave the salty, pickley sandwiches, but I don’t often find myself near Chinatown when those cravings hit.  I had to take advantage. 

I marched on over to  bánh mì Saigon and placed an order for a #4, the  bánh mì Pate Cha: Vietnamese ham and pate and retreated to a park to enjoy.  The sandwich came, as is traditional with bánh mì, on a crispy rice flour baguette, yielding but crispy, and not too flavorful so as to detract from the cacophony of flavor within.  Lightly pickled carrots and daikon radish and strips of cucumber aplenty helped offset the richer flavors of the duo of pork.  Vietnamese ham, or pork roll, is an interesting thing, almost like a salty, delicious Vietnamese gyro made of pork.  The pate brings a mild funk to the sandwich.  Mayo joins the party to add some moisture and tie together the funk, the salt and the acid with some creaminess.    Cilantro brings freshness and keeps the palate from being overwhelmed.  Though not the best bánh mì I've had, it's a fine example of the form.  

Banh Mi Saigon
198 Grand Street (b/w Mulberry & Mott)
New York, NY

(212) 941-1541


Shanelé said...

mmm this sounds tasty. I've never had it before...must try soon!

Dee said...

I have jury duty the end of this month in Trenton- I do not think the food assortment will be as good there.