Wednesday, May 11, 2011

banh mi for mi mami

Don’t you love this post’s adorably multicultural title?!

So Mother’s Day. My mom is delightful. Our whole family is delightful. We had the whole family together; the star of the holiday, my mother; me; my sister (just returned for summer break); and obvi Sheila. Who’s happy cause my sister plays with her a lot more than I do.


Throughout my childhood, my mother was absurdly unhelpful about giving suggestions for birthday/Christmas gifts (always going “… I don’t know… write me a poem or something”) and particularly loathed Mother’s Day, finding it highly commercialized. So, I learned from a pretty young age that delicious food is the gift that keeps on giving.

This year she suggested banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), something we all adore and just do not eat enough of.

We checked out Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich, a local place that gets rave reviews on Yelp. It immediately earned my favor by turning out to be a BAKERY as well as sandwich place. I love whacky foreign baked goods.

What are these?!


It’s like a burger! (Except apparently contains “fried bologna”)!


Sticky rice “tacos”?! With coconut on top?!


We picked up some of those bad boys immediately. But the real star of course is the eponymous banh mi. The basic idea of a banh mi is a sandwich beginning with a perfect crusty French-style baguette (I am not at all a fan of colonialism, but its legacy in Vietnam is some really delicious French-Vietnamese cultural fusion), some kind of meat, and delicious Asian-style toppings (julienned radish and carrot; hot peppers; cilantro; fish sauce, etc.)

The options were dizzying. And aren’t the random candy canes hanging from the ceiling fun?!


The woman of the hour got the #1: a meat combo. Lots of awesome porkiness.


I also insisted she get a Vietnamese coffee, which is made with sweetened condensed milk. Mmm.


Meanwhile, I could not resist getting the “Vegi Ham”. I have the oddest fondness for fake meat. I don’t even like *real* ham very much, but apparently like *fake* ham.


The banh mi experience is really just all about those luscious condiments, though. First of all, they spread the bread with a mixture of mayonnaise and fish sauce; and 99.99% of the time I hate mayonnaise but oh mannn it is like… essential for my life on this sandwich. Then you get the salty meaty meat. Then the wonderful tang of the radishes and cool cucumber and sweetish carrots, the herbyness of the cilantro, and the occasional oh my goodness of a hot pepper.

And the textures! The veggies are so CRISPY! The bread is so crusty and amazing! Fake meat has such a satisfying chew! The texture and flavor experience is just a blissful sensory overload!


As for the second course, the highlight of the bakery goodness was defnitely this pastry: sticky rice and crispy coconut on the outside; banana filling. Yum!


1 comment:

Tamara Marnell said...

My mother doesn't like gifts either, probably because for the majority of my life they were paid for with her money! Food was always a good option, unless you seem to have spent too much on it. One Christmas I sent her homemade granola and spiced nuts and she emailed saying thanks, but I could have just given her the recipes to save on shipping :p