Bánh Mì in SLC – Kim Heang Market
Kim Heang Market
1820 W 3600 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
October 26, 2011
Sincere thanks to Sam for the heads up. I had no idea that there was another option out there for a bahn mi or, as the cashier insisted, a Vietnamese sandwich.
I found mine in a metal tray at the front of the store with his help. And so, unlike the other Redwood Road sandwich purveyors, these aren’t being made to order, nor can you make special requests. This is unfortunate, since I really love the chicken liver pate that comes with the prototypical bahn mi, which is partially substituted here for a sweet BBQ sauce.
I’m not down on anybody who enjoys their sandwich this way. I’m the kind of guy who says that what an adult chooses to put on their sandwich and what happens between them thereafter is nobody’s business but theirs. However, let me make the case for the BBQ-less sandwich.
The bahn mi is, in the universe of sandwiches, on the complex side. There is an agile interplay of fat from the mayo and pate, acid from the pickled vegetables, heat from the jalapenos, and umami from the various pork products. Much of the joy in the sandwich, for me, exists in experiencing that interplay, fully attending to each element. A strong, sugary BBQ sauce element tends to pull all of the attention to itself. Can you taste heat? Sure. It’s still there. Does the pork taste lovely? Of course. But rather than them being main players, they’re relegated to the chorus line.
That isn’t to say that it isn’t popular, though. Cafe Thao Mi does a bahn mi with BBQ sauce that they say is their best seller. Which all goes by way of saying that I enjoyed my Kim Heang sandwich a lot. The fillings were even on the generous side, akin to the Hong Phat sandwich. The pate was delicious, and the pickled vegetation was crispy. The BBQ sauce got in the way for me, though.
If Yelp allowed for half or quarter stars, I’d be somewhere in the 3.75 range. It’s bumped to 4 here out of deference to all those who enjoy the BBQ variant of the sandwich, as well as in recognition of this being the cheapest of the bunch at a here $2. If you want to try the more authentic version, though, you won’t have an option to order it here. That being said, props for convenience and a killer price.