Bánh Mì in SLC – Redhot
165 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
I suppose it’s strange to review a hot dog place without having had a hot dog, but here I go anyway.
I had two bánh mì sandwiches: the pork belly and the beef. Short version: pretty tasty, with some dizzying highs and a few low spots.
To start with, the proteins were a definite high. Given my lifelong vendetta against pigs, it’s no surprise that the pork belly was my favorite. Even bad pork belly can be pretty good, but this was spot on: crispy edges, nicely rendered, with plenty of lean and just a kiss of honey. The beef wasn’t quite as good, though it was tender and tasty as well. I can’t say that I got much miso flavor, but the taste of beef has a tendency to sit on top of and squash some spices, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that something as delicate as the flavor of miso. The pork belly awesomeness made the meal, though.
The chipotle aioli added a bit of creamy, though not much else. Things are going to go downhill from here, too, so you can look at those four stars and know that the pork belly was responsible for most of that.
The bread was ill-suited for the challenges of the sandwich, and was a soggy mess by the time I ate my sandwich. Either a crispier, more traditional product is in order, or at least a bit of toasting. The daikon and carrot had clearly had some sort of quick pickle on it at some point, as it was in that familiar territory between cooked and crisp, but there was zero acid and also no sweet, both of which are notes that are typical in this kind of veg. I really missed both, but the acid in particular. Also missing was the usual pate, which if it’s the traditional chicken liver with a dash of cognac, can also add a bit of acid and give the palate a break.
Prices are expensive: $5.75 per sandwich. With better bread, pickled veg, and some pate, I’d have had no problem paying that price for the pork belly sandwich, so it’s not incredibly far off the mark.
Bánh mi options are scarce downtown; you’re either paying artisanal prices at Copper Onion or heading east to catch Lewis Bros. on the U campus. If I was craving a Vietnamese sandwich and was downtown, I’d brave the non-optimal parts and have another pork belly. Were the pickles and bread right, though, I can see this becoming a frequent and joyful stop for me during Sundance.