The Hunt for a Great Bánh Mì – 97 of 365

Barbecue Pork Banh Mi

Subway sells a meatball marinara sandwich that I admit isn’t too bad in the absence of a more compelling lunch choice.   Come to think of it though, Subway has never advertised those cow balls as actually 100% all beef, have they?   OK, time to eat some 100% fresh and natural Vietnamese food.  Let’s head out on the hunt for the perfect banh mi, or sandwich.

My new favorite homegrown Saigon version of the meatball marinara is stashed away in Alley 39 just off District 1’s Nguyen Trai Street.  A tiny pushcart secreted about 200 feet down this narrow passageway with an older woman flipping medallions of pork over hot charcoals with chopsticks makes its presence known with the smell of barbecue smoke.  As each piece caramalizes to a proper finish, she flips it onto a tray and a new raw pig ball immediately takes over the vacated grill space.

A sign on the side of the side of the cart boasts this joint called Banh Mi 37 was listed on as a top choice for street food.  This being Vietnam where people claim anything and everything without any substance to back it up, I went to the website and sure enough, there it is on a list published in April 2008.   It’s listed as “a sandwich of historic proportions” available for thirty cents.  Inflation has taken the price for a bit of a ride in the years since, but at 85 cents, it’s still a great value.  Some staying power like that since ’08 must mean the stuff is good.

Tender meatballs hinting of lemongrass, a teriyaki tasting mayonnaise, pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, cucumbers slices and hot pepper sauce stuff a crunchy baguette and take our tastebuds for a ride.   I read online that when writing about food, using words such as delicious and tasty are cliché and should be avoided.  Screw that advice.  This sandwich is tasty and delicious.  Enough said!

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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