Archive for the ‘bánh mì’ Category
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.
2000 W 3500 S
West Valley City, UT 84119
I never got a chance to visit Pho Green Papaya before the remodel, but the promise of bánh mì on the new menu dragged me across Redwood to take care of a late night craving. What I found was a nicely updated sandwich and a strong contender for my sandwich dollar on the west side.
I had the kalbi and the grilled pork sandwiches. The first and easiest difference here is the size of the meal; rather than the usual torpedo loaf, the bread here is much longer and thinner. My sandwiches were each about a foot long. The bread was crusty, with a pleasing chew, and the configuration made for a sandwich that was both easy to eat and that has a nice bread-to-filling ratio.
So far as I could tell, both sandwiches were dressed the same save for the protein. A tasty pate was on the bottom of both sandwiches; I ordered extra, and will continue to do so from now on. Along with the proteins was a sweet, sesame-heavy mayo and the usual cilantro, jalapeno, pickled carrots, and cucumber. The mayo is tasty, though it slightly dominated the other flavors in what is a pretty complex sandwich to start with. I’ll have them go easy on it next time, if not forgo it completely.
As far as the two proteins went, the pork was my clear winner. It was incredibly tender and married with the pate really well. I love a good kalbi, and this tasted about as I expected. That said, it was a bit more chewy than I’m used to short rib being. In their defense, I did show up about ten minutes to close, so maybe I was getting the last servings of the night.
Will I be back? Without question. There are other sandwiches to sample, as well as a non-sandwich menu that looks intriguing. New favorite? I’m up in the air. Oh Mai is such an established habit for me at this point, and their variety, the extreme differences among the various sandwiches, and proximity may win the day. That said, when I’m on the west side, the N&C sandwiches are definitely in the mix. If I’m looking for a more traditional and inexpensive sandwich on Redwood, I’m headed to Hong Phat. If I want something modern, nicely updated and reconfigured, I’m heading here. Truly tasty food, and I am excited to explore the rest of the menu.
7640 S. State Street
Midvale, UT 84047
This review is primarily for the Vietnamese sandwich appetizers now on the menu. By themselves they’d have gotten a measly two stars. I’ve had an enjoyed thoroughly the rare beef pho here, though, and on its own I’d have given it 4.5 to 5 stars, so I landed at 3 overall.
The sandwiches were available in two varieties, a brisket and a traditional pork cold cuts. Bottom line: neither one was great. Both versions of the sandwiches that I had were swimming in mayo. This made for an uncharacteristically gloppy mess for this type of sandwich. There was no pate in sight, though the addition of fish sauce definitely upped the flavor quotient. The protein-to-filling ratio was decent, though I’ll say that the thick cut jalapeno tended to mean either a mouthful that was a blast of heat or no heat at all. Something thinner and more distributed would be better when it comes to the peppers.
The bread is insubstantial at best, and the addition of a bunch of wet ingredients transformed it pretty instantly into mush. Needless to say, I really missed the usual crusty baguette here. And bread brings us to another issue, the overall size of the sandwich. At $3.95, these are comparable in price to the low end of the Oh Mai menu, and a full dollar more expensive than the sandwiches available at Hong Phat. They are, however, extremely small. Two of them would be required to make a meal.
In their defense, I was warned that they were small by the server and told they were appetizers. That said, if you are going to serve a tiny sandwich, a much tinier price is in order.
I was rooting for these sandwiches, as the location would represent the furthest south I’ve seen banh mi crop up, and having a stop to sate my craving on the south end of the valley would have been keen. Sadly, I’m not enamored.
Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen
3425 S. State St.
6093 S. Highland Dr.
It’s a joyful thing when a local business becomes a regular haunt because they make consistent, amazing product.
Oh Mai has become one of those for me. It’s a rare week that I’m not there twice buying two sandwiches at each visit. I eat one for whatever meal I’m servicing at the time, and put one in the fridge for the next day. It’s immediately a better day if I wake up and remember that there’s Oh Mai waiting for me in the chill chest for lunch.
My family loves it, too. I get sandwiches, my wife is stuck on pho. My daughter devours the Mai Roll, expertly gutting them for the shrimp, and then slowly deconstructing them from there. My mom goes there constantly, too.
Their newest creation is the chicken shiu mai, a chicken meatball sandwich. As is the norm for their food, it’s a complex dish. The ethereally tender meatballs swim in a delicious, dark red tomato-based sauce and are topped with a dark soy sauce that, when I first opened the little to-go container to assemble my sandwich and took my first whiff, smelled almost like chocolate. Add to that the usual cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, and jalapeno and you have a really fantastic feast.
Oh Mai sandwiches all exist on a spectrum between fairly clean like the S2 roast pork, and a dripping, delicious mess like the S12 brisket pho. This newest sandwich, due to the combination of sauces, is definitely on the messy end of things. I was glad that I got mine packed with the sauces and vegetation on the side. Eating it there wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
It takes a lot to break me out of my usual “S2 and S5 with extra pickled vegetables” habit when it comes to Oh Mai, but I’m already looking forward to tonight’s chicken shiu mai special.
various locations throughout the valley – http://www.chowtruck.com
I have many hopes for the future. Balanced budgets, a sane health care system, peace in the world, all over the world.
One hope trumps them all right now, though. And that hope is that SuAn Chow decides to make the current shrimp bahn mi slider with garlic ginger aioli & pickled radish special a permanent part of the menu. It would put to rest forever what my go-to at Chow Truck should be. One of these and an order of calamari and I’d be set in perpetuity.
The panko-encrusted shrimp is cooked perfectly. It’s tender, moist, and rather generous in portion so that it doesn’t get lost in the slider bun and all the rest of the sandwich fillings.
A shrimp slider of some sort has graced the specials menu many times in the past. This is, by far, the best of the lot, and mostly because of some beautifully balanced pickled radishes and carrots. The sandwich also hits another common bahn mi note with some julienne cucumber.
Subbing in for the usual pate and mayo is a devilishly delicious garlic ginger aioli. I’ll admit that I miss the pate. Then again, if the pate were to magically appear, it’s entirely possible that my head might explode from the beauty of it all.
I love what I see so far.
Unfortunately, when I rolled up about 1:30, they were sold out of the bahn mi and the falafel sandwiches. Oliver commiserated with me, offering that they’re doing dinner for Gallery Stroll. I was too hungry to wait, though, so I took what I could get.
Kimchi dog. It’s a basic hot dog. That is all that is basic about it. It is topped with delicious, scratch-made kimchi and an aioli. The alternating cooling from the aioli and the heat from the kimchi made my slavering mouth dance. The rather unique bun was soft and maybe a little big for the dog and fixings, but that’s a tiny complaint in the middle of a huge rave.
Greens and fries. Sauteed kale and onions with a generous helping of sweet chili oil on the top and some more of that house aioli. I’m not the world’s greatest fan of fries. Well, let me back that one up a bit. I do like fries, but somewhere in the middle of a serving of them, the fat and carb guilt catch up to my enjoyment and I stop. I ate every single spud this time around. The earthiness of the kale works perfectly with the potatoes, and that chili oil and aioli lift the whole thing to another level.
I might be headed back for dinner. He was kind enough to let me sample the pate that goes on the bahn mi, and if the rest of the sandwich comes close to it, I’m about to be a very happy guy.
I headed back for dinner. It was a bit of a mixed bag, but all of the pieces appear to be there for Lewis Bros. to be a force to be reckoned with.
The bahn mi was tasty. The pate is the best of any that appears on the sandwiches locally. I might ask for a side of nothing but it next time. The pulled pork and pork belly were both excellent, as were the pickled veg. On the downside, the really soft roll they are using meant the sandwich fell apart in my hands in very short order. And, while a $6 sandwich doesn’t seem out of line in general, this one is by far the smallest in size of any of the local bahn mi as well as one of the more expensive.
The kimchi fries hold promise. I had the Greens and Fries for lunch and the fries were crispy, but this evening’s fries were pretty floppy. I figured that might be a result of the wet kimchi on top of them, but some additional prodding made it clear that they were simply undercooked. The kimchi was a tasting topping, though, so had the fries been cooked, this dish would have been a winner.
That’s a lot of negative talk to still be giving a four-star recommendation, isn’t it? Here’s why: taste, taste, and taste. The food is tasty and even the dishes that aren’t perfectly executed show all sorts of promise to be so in the future.
Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen
6093 S. Highland Dr.
Holladay, UT 84121
Wow. Just wow.
I’m a huge fan of the original location, sure. There is even more here to love.
What’s different: better parking, more table space, more room in the back. You can see that the kitchen is much more comfortable, which leads one to think that wait times for food are going down. The interior feels spacious and cool.
More important than all that, they have a drive-thru window. I can now get my order without hauling myself out of the car.
What’s the same. same friendly staff, same amazing recipes. The menu is full of the same delicious, offerings I’ve come to love from the original location. Today they had the special, the name of which I’ll be reverentially typing slowly so as to not throw myself into a total food geek out.
Brisket pho sandwich.
Beautifully roasted brisket, Thai basil, some heat, and some pho broth to keep it all moist and flavorful. Brilliant. This is my new favorite sandwich without any question. I kind of wish I’d had a bite before offering half to my wife. To my shame as a spouse, I might have kept the entire thing for myself. I’m not selfish; the sandwich is just that good.
Convenient Holladay dining just took a quantum leap. I’ll be back tomorrow for more of that brisket pho sandwich.
111 E 300 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Welcome to lunchtime, Plum Alley!
The new lunch menu drops a few items and picks up rice bowls and three banh mi sandwiches – the traditional cold cut, a pork shoulder, and a chicken curry.
These are not your grandma’s banh mi.
First, the cold cut sandwich is stuffed with Creminelli mortadella. It is buttery, rich, and pocked with peppercorns. Then there is a good portion of ham. I’d say that, compared to most banh mi I’ve had, these are fairly protein heavy. That is not a criticism.
Also along the less traditional vein are the pickled veggies. I believe I saw some green beans in there, but definitely not the usual daikon. It’s hard to be accurate at this point. I planned to open it when I got back to my car, since I got my order to go, and have a single bite and save the rest until I got home. I had my bite, pulled out into traffic, and found bite after bite of the sandwich willing itself into my mouth. I blame some sort of Plum Alley long-distance mind control device.
Delicious. Not traditional, but no complaints here. Did I mention the sauce?
I should mention the sauce. Most banh mi have some mayo and chicken liver pate. So, the mad Plum Alley geniuses think, why not just combine the two?
Please welcome to the world patéoli.
The mortadella is so unctuous that the sandwich almost doesn’t need it, but it does push the whole proceeding over the top. I was especially glad that the pickled veg was way to the sour end of the spectrum, since it cut the fat nicely.
I should mention that, at $7, they are well over double the cost of the other banh mi you’ll find around town. Using extremely high quality meats and hand making devilish pickles definitely brings with it a price tag. Worth it? Probably so, and definitely worth trying to decide for yourself.
Can’t wait to try the other two varieties.
How soon is too soon to write an update? The next day?
I hope not. We enjoyed our food so much that we decided it was dinner tonight, too. At first I figured I’d go with the same S1, but found the the flavors were impressive enough that I wanted to see what other magic they might have in store.
We got a V1, a bun or vermicelli noodle salad with honey-glazed pork. The flavor of the meat was just subtly sweet, enough to compliment the natural sweetness of pork. It was perfectly cooked and has some nicely crispy, caramelized ends. The salad came with a really tasty chili-lime fish sauce vinaigrette to put over the cold noodles and veggies. Really great dish.
We also got two sandwiches. The first, the S3, is a yellow curry chicken cooked with coconut milk. This was a bit of a departure for me from the usual porky land of the traditional bánh mì, but the seductively spicy chicken was a great match with all of the usual pickled vegetation. I can see revisiting this neighborhood again for sure.
How to Make a Clown Cry:
Step 1: Order an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s
Step 2: Order the S10 Sunny Side Up Egg sandwich from Oh Mai
Step 3: Place them next to each other, noting that the Oh Mai sandwich is at least twice as large and contains two eggs and generous helpings of pickled carrot and daikon as well as caramelized onions
Step 4: Compare the prices of the two, noting that the Oh Mai Sandwich is currently two cents cheaper
Step 5: Taste
I ordered this sandwich mostly out of curiosity and because of the very low price. I am a believer now. I also noted that they offer to add a sunny side up egg to any sandwich for less than a buck. That will be happening soon.
Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen
3425 S State St
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
My bias from the outset: I love bánh mì, and love that I have a variety of places to choose from to get them in SLC. The only downside of the status quo is that they all reside on a ten block stretch of each other on Redwood Road, a substantial drive from my place. So when I saw the sign for Oh Mai go up on State Street a month ago, was I rooting for them to be great? You bet I was.
My dreams have come true. This place stands to save me many trips to the west side.
The bánh mì that I had, the S1 Cold Cuts, was as close to my gold standard, Spice Kit in San Francisco, as I’ve found in the area. On the protein side of the lineup, pork roll, jambon ham, pork head cheese, and a pork pate. The vegetation side: pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeno, cilantro, and cucumber. Surround that with a piece of bread that, while not the traditional so-crispy-that-it-shatters-on- the-first-bite baguette, was nonetheless of the french variety, thoroughly toasted, and nicely dressed with garlic butter and mayo. It hits all of the usual bánh mì notes of unctuous, sweet from the vegetables, and substantial from the meat. At only $3.88, it is ridiculously inexpensive. Something about the more substantial bread and the generous toppings also makes this a much more filling sandwich than any of its brethren further west.
Despite being stuffed, I also had some pho, which was highly tasty. I loved the broth in particular. But, for me, this place was about the sandwich. In talking with the staff, they said that they plan to start offering the more traditional chicken liver pate with the sandwich, as well as green papaya salad in the future.
The hours on the door are 9:30a to 8:30p, 7 days a week. I think that may, coincidentally, describe my return schedule for the place, too.