We’re thinking the banh mi has officially arrived. Last month we rounded up the best banh mi in Chicago. Just a short few weeks later we personally got very excited while spellchecking the brand-spanking new menu for Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches, the sandwich shop located inside DIY-gourmet storefront My Gourmet Kitchen whose top-notch ingredients (crazypants-delicious housemade char siu pork, anyone?) are paired with cheap-as-heck prices (everything’s $3.95).
Yesterday, over at Hungry Mag, Barry Strum tells his own banh mi war story — literally. Serving in Vietnam in 1968-69, Strum buys a mysterious sandwich from a mama-san while waiting miserably at a traffic-free airstrip. It’s the best thing he’s ever had:
Nestled inside the baguette was what I came to later know as pate. It had a definite liver taste. Normally, given my food sophistication at the time, that alone would have been a deal breaker. However, it had slices of long white radish (later revealed to me as Daikon), some cucumber, and a musky but somehow also very fresh tasting, leafy herb (turned out to be Cilantro). God!! What a combo!! I’d never had anything like that.
It’s so great — and so mysterious — that he just has to ask what it is. And the reply? “Oh Chung Oui, Numba One Rat!!” Even that joke’s not enough to put Strum off his sandwich. If you haven’t tried a banh mi yet, let that tell you something: they’re that good.
[Photo: Stu Spivack/Flickr]