The banh mi — aka the “Vietnamese hoagie” — has long been popular at Vietnamese cafes and delis. But today, we’re seeing the sandwich pop up on menus at gastropubs and higher end restaurants. While some might lament non-traditional takes on the banh mi, we find it’s hard to be provincial about a French-inspired Vietnamese sandwich that in Philadelphia is often served on a Sarcone’s Italian roll.
The recently opened Chew Man Chu (440 S. Broad St.) already has three varieties on the menu: five spice pork belly, lemongrass chicken, and portobello mushroom.
Supper’s (926 South St.) new lunch menu features a crispy squid banh mi with Sichuan sausage, cilantro, sweet peppers and sambal mayo. Accompanying the sandwich is a one-of-a-kind side of potato chips that are spiced with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel and sichuan peppercorns.
Resurrection Ale House (2425 Grays Ferry Ave.) boasts a rare, vegetarian-friendly version, complete with king trumpet mushrooms, cilantro, carrot and daikon and served with a side of fries.
And over at Royal Tavern (937 E. Passyunk Ave.), the current chalkboard special is an interesting take on the sandwich, with sweet potatoes, jalapenos, cilantro aioli and jicama, a Mexican yam that has become popular in Vietnamese food.
– Arthur Etchells is a local food blogger. Read more at www.foobooz.com.
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