Bánh mì • Vietnamese Hoagie

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A NEW SHOP OPENED ACROSS the street.  Windows boarded up, a Grand Opening sign none-the-less said, “Come on in!”.  After several weeks of derelict appearance, with flashing sign still proclaiming “OPEN”, I finally relented to curiosity.

Half the shelves were empty.  The floor, cracked.  The prepared food selection?  Sold out today, sorry.  Nothing?  They can still make sandwiches.  Recognizing the Vietnamese Hoagie from Chinatown shops, I pointed to a #3.  Spicy, please.

800px-Bánh_mì_xíu_mại-meatball-sandwichEven thought this was a Sunday, the baguette had just-from-the-oven crusty flakes.  The green stuff, garden fresh.  Meat flavorful and satisfying.  Mine was pork, sliced.  Along with a heaping of fresh cucumber slices, cilantro, pickled carrots, spicy chili sauce, and stuff I couldn’t identify.  No use asking the owner.  Her English?  Practically non-existent.  But her shop nails it perfectly with an authentic Vietnamese sandwich.

Be adventurous.  Small shops like these are now all over America.  Pictures of the sandwiches, accompanied with the name of the meat and a number, adorn their walls.  Four bucks or maybe $4.50 in the bigger cities, will get you an excellent Bánh mì • Vietnamese Hoagie.

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