Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Banh Mi


Recommended Posts

Batgrrrl and I (this is really klink, don't be fooled!) tried to find where Banh Mi is so we could get some lunch before the Mariner's game against the Padres.

BUT,

despite all of our web prowess, we were unable to find any information on the joint except in mamster's allusion in his Azuma review.

Any help?

And what about the first sandwich to order?

Batgrrrl here--I'm a way better typist than Col. Klink!  And a better editor.  I just cleaned up his tenses.  Must be because English is his second language.

Cheers!

"Shameful or not, she harbored a secret wish

for pretty, impractical garments."

Barbara Dawson Smith

*Too Wicked to Love*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember mamster saying that the bahn mi place shares the same parking lot as the market that I said sells cartons of pork blood.  Now if I could just remember the name of the market that sells the pork blood, we could look up the address...was is Viet Wah, or Than Brothers or something else?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here I am.  There are a whole bunch of banh mi places around the intersection of 12th and Jackson, but the one I recommended was in the parking lot of the Hop Thanh supermarket, on the southwest corner of 12th and Jackson.  It's inside the Video West store and it's called Banh Mi 88.  I've tried three of their sandwiches and my favorite is the BBQ pork.  Last time I went he was out of it (I went early, so probably it wasn't done yet), so I tried the beef and the charbroiled pork.  The beef was kind of mushy and not very interesting;  the charbroiled pork consisted of tasty, spicy meatballs and was great.  There are several other flavors, too.  Do let us know what you end up with.

I went to an incredible Chinese supermarket in Richmond, BC, this week, the Osaka market inside the Yaohan Center mall on No. 3 Road.  Among other great stuff, they had Golden Boy fish sauce, which is one of the premium brands that you never see for sale in Seattle.  It's right down the road from Sun Sui Wah, a great dim sum palace.  Definitely worth the detour from Vancouver.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A group of us here in the office have been happily working on a banh mi field survey. Here are our findings so far:

Seattle Deli 1221 S. Main Street 328-0106

Very very good barbecue pork sandwich, with chunks of skewer-grilled pork. The chicken (banh mi ga) is also to die for, with plenty of 5-spice. The ham sandwich was also good. The bread is noticably better than other places, but we're not sure why.

Saigon Deli 1200 S Jackson 322-3700

Their banh mi, is just as good as you would expect from seeing their other delicious-looking entrees. The barbecued pork sandwich was heavy on the slices of hot, succulent meat which truly tasted of "pork" not merely meat-like substance. The shredded pork sandwich was good too, although some members of the tasting party were put off by the interesting texture. The tofu is next on the list to try, it looks great! Also, try a helping of the viscous yellow mung bean dessert-type dish, which comes with a goodly-sized ladle of coconut cream over the top. Sticky deliciousness.

Buu Dien 923 S Jackson, 233-9001. Open daily 8-6

They had a sardine sandwich which was really delicious, and it was the only place we saw that variety. The vegetable sandwich was yummy and extremely worthwhile, with plenty of white pepper to make it spicy. I thought their bread was too crunchy/crumbly, but I think it's all in how they heat it.

Saigon Gourmet 502 S. King Street 624-2611

Banh mi here is take-out only from the kitchen next to the seating area of the restaurant. They use hot chili sauce here instead of slivered jalepeno. So far, I like the combo here better than from anywhere else. The tofu version also gets high marks (it's truly vegetarian, utilizing soy sauce instead of fish sauce). The egg is good when you're in the mood for a fried-egg sandwich. The barbecue pork is only so-so; it’s the sliced barbecue pork like you get in Chinese restaurants, as opposed to pork grilled on skewers, so their version is not as good as Seattle Deli’s.

Saigon Bistro (Uwajimaya location)

The sandwiches didn't seem "wet" enough. The shredded tofu sandwich was okay, but not as good as Saigon Gourmet's version: the vegetables (daikon, carrot, cilantro, etc) were scanty rather than being offered as an integral part of the sandwich. I tried one each of the chicken and the pork, both of which feature the meat hot off the grill. The chicken was kind of ho-hum. The pork had excellent flavor, and would qualify for a repeat performance, except the quality of the meat was highly disappointing, with more than one occurrence of non-edible fat/gristle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PerfectCircle, welcome and thank you so much for this helpful post.  I'm curious to hear your opinion of the Banh Mi 88, if you've been there, since it's the only one I've tried.  That will soon change.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[Ack, I already posted about this but it was right before the site went down yesterday to restore the old posts]

Before Sunday's game I went to Banh Mi 88 on this board's advice. I have to admit I didn't go in to the joint with the best attitude. Although I was ravenously hungry (I'd go so far as to say fungry), I parked near Uwajimaya and walked by at least a dozen restaurants with gorgeous bbq duck or wonderful smells emanating their siren song. It took extreme self control walking past Azuma and not going in (it was only later did I realize that Azuma wasn't even open on Sunday afternoons).  And I did have trouble locating the place after I got to 12th and Jackson because I had forgotten that it was in a VIDEO STORE.   It's probably a shame that I'm not adventurous enough to try video store deli food without a recommendation.

Though luck did not shine down on the M's that day (more like impotence) it did shine on me as I was treated to some incredible sandwiches. I ordered the #1 combo and the #3 bbq beef. At least I think it was beef and I have no idea was the combo was a comination of but it was probably pork that had been peppered as all of the meat was white and juicy. What I do know is that I can't wait to get back and try more. The reason I don't know what meat was in the combo is that I can't read Vietnamese very well, or to put it simply, at all. While waiting for the food I thought I could pick out a few words, but I was only deluding myself (runs in the family).

How in the hell can they afford to sell these big sandwiches (I'm still giddy thinking about those baguettes) for only $1.50!?!?! If they were anywhere outside of the ID they could sell 'em for $5 or $6 and everyone would still be asking how they make any money. Cheap rent I guess? Subsidies from the video counter?

The bbq beef sandwich was a surprise. Mamster nailed the sauce right on the head. My only complaint is that the meat wasn't the apex of cuts and both sandwiches leaned towards sinewy near the end.  But at $1.50, I'm happy to report I didn't see any snouts, entrails or "miscellaneous" cuts and would gladly go back for more.

To sum up both sandwiches in one word, it would be "refreshing." Fantastic bread, interesting and different meat (I can't wait to try the fried tofu across the street) and pickled veggies led to a completely new experience. I scarfed down both sandwiches only occasionally coming up for air. The daikon and carrots added to the texture while the fish sauce, onions, jalepenos and cilantro knocked the rest of the flavors home. If only I could get down to the ID more often.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Feeling chatty about food this morning, and I'm so thankful to have egullet as an outlet!

I went to Banh Mi 88 last week and I agree that their barbeque pork is really really good. I loved the sauce they used on it; it considerably upped the succulence factor.

The onions were a bit disconcerting; it's the first place I've tried that uses them, and while I love onions, I found that the sheer quantity of them overpowered the other vegetables, so I picked the bigger pieces off. This isn't a complaint so much as an observation, however. I'll definitely be going back.

It's interesting how the different shops have their own style of making each sandwich, so much so that comparisons are often not applicable. Saigon Deli uses sliced pork in their version of the barbeque pork banh mi, which has a very different texture and flavor than either Seattle Deli or Banh Mi 88. But I like all three versions, and don't feel compelled to pit one against the other. One day I'll be in the mood for one variety; the next day for a different variety. I just feel blessed to have so many options to choose from.

By the way, my sources tell me that Buu Dien no longer serves the sardine version, and that they have a different person altogether staffing the sandwich station, so the quality is not as it was....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A belated welcome PerfectCircle!

Went to Than Vi before last night's game. It might be Seattle Deli, I'm not sure. It's on the NW corner of 12th and Jackson, my new favorite food location.

They only had prepared banh mi sandwiches and I ordered two. At the ballpark I found out they were pork! Yeah pork! The sandwiches were OK, not very inspiring as they were a little dry. I liked the addition of cucumber which Banh Mi 88 didn't have, but the veggies weren't marinated like Banh Mi 88 and they weren't as plentiful. Though they were better distributed throughout the sandwich.

Those sandwiches also looked a little skimpy so I also picked up a bbq pork sandwich from Banh Mi 88. It is not fair to describe it without the use obscenities! The pork is juicy and the sauce is perfect, both in quality and quantity. I'm not sure what the sauce is, but it's not tomato based and doesn't detract but accentuates the juicy pork. Pork, is there anything you can't do?

Tonight I'm going to try Saigon Deli's sandwiches on the opposite corner. I love living in this town! Great food and great baseball.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm still planning a sweep to try all of the Perfect-Circle recommended banh mi places, but I'm nurturing doubts that anything could be quite as good as the 88 pork.  Is there anything else in town even half as good for twice the price?

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the welcome Col Klink. Curious to hear how Saigon Deli treated you. I ordered two of their banh mi yesterday for lunch: a repeat performance of their wonderful barbeque pork (sliced version), and a first-try for the tofu, which I also recommend (but I'm a tofu-loving freak). It escaped my notice before that they have a skewer-grilled pork banh mi option. That'll be my next try. Their drinks look really good, too. And their sandwiches are only $1.25 each. A big container of delicious marinated tofu will only set you back $2.00. I really think that place is awesome.

I had a very disappointing dinner experience at Thanh Vi a couple years ago so they weren't on my radar to try their banh mi. Based on your detailed account, and in the face of so many other worthy spots, it sounds as though they deserve a pass.

Seattle Deli is on the same city-block as Saigon Deli (NE block of the 12th/Jackson intersection), but it's around the corner (from the front of Saigon Deli, head north, then east and it's in its own little shopping strip, facing Main St and Boren). I think Seattle Deli has my favorite pork so far, with Banh Mi 88 favored when I'm definitely in the mood for onions (i.e. no afternoon meetings), and Saigon Deli for the tofu. And then of course there's my first love, Saigon Gourmet, in the International District. All of them have their own strengths, and elicit their own cravings.

It's awfully fun comparing notes with y'all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is Saigon Gourmet the place right next to the bus tunnel entrance, across from the old Uwajimaya?  I've had their papaya salad, but never their banh mi.

Okay, it's time for me to stop promising a banh mi excursion and start having one.  Friday lunch, I'm going to be down at 12th and Jackson.  Anyone care to joinh mi (sorry)?

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A belated welcome from me too, PerfectCircle.  I'm also a fan of bahn mi's, although I'm sidelined with a bad back now, and haven't been able to get out & try these recommendations yet.  I would love to know if you, or other eGulleteers also have recommendations on places for Vietnamese Spring Rolls, fried or fresh.  I love both versions.  I had the fried version recently at Lee's Asian Restaurant in W. Seattle (I went their after reading Michael Hood's review...great place).  They were delicious.  Has anyone been to Monsoon or other full scale Vietnamese restaurants? (ie Vietnam's Pearl, Viet My or others?).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a review of Vietnam's Pearl in the current issue of Colors NW.  I don't think it's online.

I've been to Monsoon several times.  I'm a little torn;  some of the stuff I've had there has been fantastic (they have this soup with tamarind and shrimp...) and some has been more like Chinese takeout (the crispy chicken, not that it wasn't good).  I'll keep going periodically, though--it's a walk from my house and the service is good.  But the price can add up if you're not careful.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think I've heard of Colors NW before.  Is it like the Seattle Weekly or The Stranger?  Thanks for the comments on Monsoon.  I love Vietnamese food.   I'm not sure why I haven't scoped it out more.  At the moment I have 6 Vietnamese cookbooks checked out from the library to see if there is is one I would like to buy.  I like both Mai Pham books the best (she's chef/owner of The Lemongrass Restaurant & Cafes in Sacramento), & her cookbooks are: The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking, as well as Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table.  Her stories &  anecdotes, especially in the Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table are really interesting.  I'd like to get them both.  She gives great advice and instructions which make her cookbooks suitable for beginners like me, and adapts Vietnamese recipes for ingredients readily available in the US.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Howdy Blue Heron, thanks for the welcome, hope to hear you're up and around soon. I'll check out Lee's. So glad to have the rec!

I won't be able to join Friday's foray, but I look forward to hearing all about it.

Fresh spring rolls (has anyone else heard these referred to as "salad rolls" to differentiate them from fried spring rolls?): mmm, Saigon Bistro, up the hill to your left as you're heading east on Jackson, after you go under the freeway, before you hit 12th. They do a very very good job. (They also have a very good Duck Noodle soup.)

Probably my favorite fresh spring rolls are at the Moonlight (keep following Jackson east to 20th, across the street from the Wonderbread/Hostess outlet). One reason I love them so much is that they offer a mouth-watering meat-free version so that I can share with my vegetarian sweetheart. Moonlight is the Vietnamese full-on restaurant I frequent the most often, which would probably be the case even if they didn't have a complete faux-meat menu (everything I've ever had there, meat or non-meat, has been delicious).

In the past, Viet My would also have been included in that list for fresh spring rolls, but since they were forced out of their Prefontaine location and reduced to a stall in the Columbia Tower food court, their rolls are prepared in advance and the quality of them has suffered to the point where I don't bother with them at all.

Anybody remember a place down on Rainier called Khan's Garden? It was across from Borrachini's and it was the first place I tried most Vietnamese dishes. That was my full-scale Vietnamese restaurant destination for years (late 80's to mid-90's), and I haven't found anyone who makes broken rice to compare to theirs.

A bunch of us here in the office try to keep all our Vietnamese tasting notes together here:

http://www.geocities.com/perfectcircle_99/...vietnamese.html

And here's that ColorsNW article on Vietnam's Pearl (thank you for pointing it out Mamster; makes me want to give the place another try):

http://www.iseattle.com/colorsnw/taste_buds.shtml

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the well wishes, and also for the link to the Vietnam Pearl's review and your restaurant notes.  You are a wonderful treasure trove of knowledge.  I can't wait to try some of your recommendations.

I have also heard of the fresh spring rolls referred to as salad rolls (that's what Mai Pham calls them), and some people call them summer rolls.  Whatever they are called, they are good!  I'd like to learn how to make them, and Cook's Illustrated Magazine recently had a recipe for them I should try.

I was really pleased to read about all the places you wrote about (I'm actually still reading....), especially the Moonlight as you recommended.

If you go to Lee's in W. Seattle, I recommend the Seven Flavor Beef. which is a real knock-out.  It's sliced flank steak with the flavors of lemon grass, peanuts, hoisin, chilies, basil, garlic & ginger quickly dry stir-fried as described by Michael Hood, his review appears here: Lee's Asian Restaurant   I also had the Szechuan Eggplant & Tofu, which was pretty good, but not good enough to make me want to order it again (there are a lot of other interesting things I would like to try, but I'd definitely get the Seven Flavor Beef again).  They feature mostly Chinese (Hunan, Cantonese, Szechuan, ChaiZhou), Thai, and a couple things each of Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese & Singaporian (if that's a word).  Lunch deals are really good.  Soup, both white & brown rice, and entree from $4.95-$6.95.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread rules.

ColorsNW is a free monthly glossy devoted to issues concerning people of color in Seattle.  They do an ethnic restaurant review in each issue, and they often manage to come up with a place I've never heard of, so I always check out the magazine.  Glad they posted that Vietnam's Pearl review.

Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table is a great book.  I've made the saigon crepes (banh xeo) several times, and they're both fun to make and fun to eat.  They're crispy, and who doesn't like crispy?

I can't wait to try Lee's next time we're in West Seattle.  We can hit Admiral afterwards.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The sweep has begun.  Today I tried a chicken from Saigon Deli and a BBQ pork from Seattle Deli.  I also grabbed a tray of lop cheong summer rolls with peanut dipping sauce.  While I was at the bus stop I traded a bite of my chicken for a bite of this woman's combo from Thanh Vi.  It had ham, liverwurst, and turkey, according to her.  It was good.

The chicken was a little bland, the pork a little dry, but they were both perfectly acceptable sandwiches.  Next time maybe I'll try the pork from Saigon and something else from Seattle.  I need to read back over those posts.

The summer rolls were nice and fresh, and I liked the dipping sauce, but I didn't really catch any flavor off the sausage.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tuesday I hit Saigon for the chicken and bbq pork. Though the chicken was a tad dry, it was very tasty. I didn't find either of the sandwiches sandwich to be dry and I enjoyed both of them. Both sandwiches have a good balance of daikon, carrot, cucumber and cilantro.The 88 bbq pork still is my favorite. I can't wait to try their combo and I'm even tempted by the tofu one too.

I also tried a combo from Seattle Deli and thought it was a little boring, like Thanh Vi. I would've gone back to 88 but they were closed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm salivating!

The only experience with bahn mi I've had is at the Vietnamese place in the Uwajimaya food court and it wasn't memorable. You are inspiring me to get my butt out of the office and into the ID.

And I think this thread has some potential with a spring/summer roll spinoff subject :)

Mamster, I'm curious, what was in the summer roll? Can you give a description?

Blue Heron, there is a Thai cafe in the Great Wall Mall in Kent that makes really good fresh spring rolls with a Thai kick (I think they call them salad rolls there). The last time I was at the Thai cafe, the roll included some chile and garlic marinted prawns (2 large ones), sweet basil leaves, some crunchy veggies like carrot and maybe daikon? and little bits of marinated pork in a fresh rice wrapper. It was fantastic. It came with a very mellow peanut dipping sauce. It was also pretty cheap: 2 for $3. I'm a big fan of spring rolls, so I'd love to hear other recs :)

Also, Blue Heron, I hope your back gets better soon!

Oh, and I wanted to tell you that I have started my vegetable garden in the backyard (at least building the raised beds, but not quite to the point of planting yet!). Watch for a report later this spring!

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The summer rolls came three to a styrofoam tray.  One of the cool things about these places (Saigon and Seattle Delis) is that they have all kinds of cool packaged stuff to take for lunch, including various types of summer rolls, BBQ pork and spring roll over rice, and a lot of things I couldn't begin to recognize.

This summer roll some carrot and daikon shreds (pickled), rolled up with rice paper, and then a thin lengthwise slice of lop cheong rolled up between two layers of the wrapping so that it showed through the top of the roll.  They looked really cool, which is why I bought them.  The dipping sauce was good and peanutty.  I really like lop cheong, but as I said, I couldn't taste it much, so I was a little disappointed.

So, Saigon Deli had probably ten different types of banh mi.  Do you think we could piece together a glossary?  Because I think the Vietnamese names are consistent but the English ones aren't.  So far I know that the BBQ pork is banh mi thit nuong and the chicken is banh mi ga.  A table of all of the major types with fully accented Vietnamese, common English translation, and a description would be an amazingly useful tool.  Maybe we could compile it and put it up on the grub shack (or elsewhere) with all of our names on it.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...