Bánh Mì in America – 122 of 365

Bánh Mì

We have reached our final meal together in America, and I trust you are as ready as I to start exploring Vietnam anew.   This detour has served an important purpose though in just checking out the food scene across the Pacific to make some comparisons.  I think we have all become better educated the past several months as to the diversity produced in a Vietnamese kitchen, and this hands on education has made the Atlanta trip such an eye opener as to what constitutes “authentic” in at least one major US city.

After over a week of sampling various restaurants and scouring countless menus in Atlanta, I can say that the offerings in this corner of America pale in comparison in reflecting the tastes and textures we so enjoy in Vietnam.   Had this project been solely US based, fifteen meals would likely exhaust the menu, and this food project would have been over within weeks.  The Viet-Atlanta creations taste ok yet miss that little something something needed to push it across the finish line, like say quality fish sauce, proper hot peppers, and a little more variety than phở.  This is akin to plopping a McDonald’s down in the middle of Saigon and having the locals think its Big Macs are the arbiters of an entire nation’s cuisine.  Actually, don’t most people around the world think that already?  But I digress.

The Atlanta food trail has had its sporadic ups and more frequent downs.  Remember that lemongrass chicken vermicelli a few days ago from Lee’s Deli that gave me new appreciation for water retention?   No amount of water pills could swim up against that sodium laden mess.   That very same restaurant causing every fiber of my being to swell up like some water balloon receives rave local reviews for its supposed authenticity, and its bánh mì sandwiches are evidently legendary amongst foodies in Atlanta.  Since I am a fair person I ventured back to give the place another try.  I sampled a rather anemic barbecue pork one, and well, let’s just leave it at that.

For a really good sandwich, just venture a bit further down Buford Highway to Pho Viet at number 4300 where we tried soup the other day.  The very friendly owner makes a very decent sandwich for $2.50, and her barbecue pork on baguette is a memorable one.  Chunks of soft, sweet grilled meats stuff a roll crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  So far so good!  If I closed my eyes, the hot sauce, creamy mayo, cilantro, cucumbers and pickled carrots tasted enough like Saigon to transport me back in my imagination.  Subway charges $5 and up for a processed meat sandwich.  Why not just eat truly fresh for half the price at a nearby Vietnamese deli?

This perfect blend of Vietnam on a bánh mì lets me leave Atlanta on a very high taste note, and and I am now fully reinvigorated to jump back into the real deal just a long, long plane ride away.  Will the remaining meals of this 365 goal prove enough a canvas to sample all Vietnam has to offer?  Check back and we will find out together.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

2 Comments on “Bánh Mì in America – 122 of 365”

  1. April 21, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    Did you know that almost all of the fish sauce sold in the US come from Thailand? The only one brand that is truly imported from Vietnam is called Red Boat. http://redboatfishsauce.com/index.html

  2. Yu
    April 29, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I’m living in Atlanta but never been to Pho Viet

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