Right now, a furious battle rages: My brain says “It is not even the end of January, you need to stick to your stupid resolutions about losing weight.” And in the other corner my stomach says “Holy sweet goodness, it is the most delicious sandwich of all time and you need to be eating one RIGHT NOW.”
The banh mi is truly an exercise in gestalt. Its collection of individual components are all delicious on their own — thin slices of ham or roast pork, a generous layer of pork pate, a veritable salad of carrots, cilantro, jalapeno, and pickled radish, all topped with a healthy smear of (preferably kewpie) mayo and a shot of hot sauce — but they come together on a warm, crusty baguette in such harmonious concord that your very Platonic notion of “sandwich” is altered forever.
The more or less undisputed king of the Chicago banh mi is Ba Le Bakery, where a mammoth sandwich clocks in at an absurdly inexpensive $2.95. It’s the lone windy city outpost of a Hawaiian chain, and they really know how to do it right.
For a thrillingly housemade experience, check out the proprietary pork pate that graces the banh mi at Pho Xe Lua — stray from their eponymous soup and avail yourself of one of their dozen sandwich options, most under five bucks. Similarly, Pho Xe Tang (Tank Noodles) has killer banh mi on the menu. Tear yourself away from the hot parts of the menu and get a sandwich — you’ll thank yourself as soon as you take the first bite.
Nhu-Lan Bakery & Sandwiches puts their expertise right in the name — the bread is, obviously, made in-house, and any sandwich variety you imagine is going to ring in under $3.
Baoguette: Great Vietnamese Sandwiches in Murray Hill, Possibly the Best Banh Mi in NYC [Serious Eats]
Baoguette [MenuPages NYC]
Baoguette [Official Site]
Ba Le Bakery [MenuPages]
Ba Le Bakery [Official Site]
Pho Xe Lua [MenuPages]
Nhu-Lan Bakery & Sandwiches [MenuPages]
[Photo via yours truly]