Friday, March 14, 2008

Bánh Mì

While being relatively familiar with several kinds of Asian foods, Vietnamese is a cuisine that I have not had very much experience eating. To my good fortune, I got to sample some bánh mì--Vietnamese sandwiches--at a work function a few months ago.

A tofu sandwich may not sound that exciting to many people, but those people are missing out if they haven't tried Tofu Bánh Mì!

This sandwich packs incredible amounts of flavor and is unlike the usual suspects you'll find in the traditional American sandwich shop. I probably would never have thought to put carrots or cilantro (coriander) on a sandwich, but this combination worked really well for "sandwich greenery" (along with cucumber slices). The slight crunch of the carrots and cucumber added good bite. As a big fan/infrequent chomper of cilantro, I especially appreciated the robust flavor of the herb.

The sandwich is both tangy and sweet. I'm not a big fan of mayonnaise, but on this sandwich it's mixed with some vinegar and sugar. These flavors go well with the tofu and greenery and really help bring the sandwich together.

And did I mention the baguette? This hardy French bread is certainly a nice change from the flavor- & personality-deprived bread that has somehow become the standard for bread in this country. But the best part about bánh mì (apart from the incredible yumminess, of course), is the price... When I scouted out my own bánh mì, I only made a dent of $2.50! Bánh mì certainly beats the unsatisfying and overpriced sandwiches from those chain joints.

So, if you have never tried bánh mì, the morale of the story is to track down the nearest Vietnamese joint and taste it for yourself. Not only are you likely to find a great food bargain, you will you give your tastebuds some excitement.

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