Been learning about banh mi. After having a good beef one at Mei Sum a few weeks ago, today we sampled banh mi at 163 in Chinatown and Pho Viet in the Super 88 Food Court in Allston; just a 14 minute drive between them. We sat in the food court and compared. The 2 versions of bbq/grilled beef banh mi are very similar in: amount of beef, amount and type of toppings, fish sauce and 'mayo'. The 163 beef has a sweet profile(the glaze) and the Pho Viet has a soy sauce /teriyaki profile. The latter is also freshly grilled and served warm in a far superior baguette (shattering? you betcha.) And, last but not least, the short woman at 163 is like major nasty witchy times 10. My only reference (thankfully) is the Durgin Park witch waitresses from 40 yrs ago. When I asked her to plse. make sure and add the chilis(after reading numerous CH warnings) she looked at me like.....well, you can imagine. And then she whined, "Of cose, you want chili, i geev chili." On a completely different planet, the Pho Viet lady was all smiles and lovely; couldn't have been more helpful. For tomorrow at home, we got some of that Bun bo hue, beef noodle soup, I recently read about on another CH thread.
After picking up some special produce in the market (our first Thai melon) we went to S and I Thai to see if they had any of their occasional sweets, but they had none, so of course we picked up some savories for dinner. The Pad thai was excellent but the Pad ped moo krob was the standout. Notably excellent non-tough pork belly on a bed of sliced peppers with a sprig of green peppercorns and unknown very tasty things on top. Chicharrones but even better; crunchy, chewy, yummm, in a very complex layering of flavors.(I'm not a soooper hot-lover and once i removed all the chilis, my mouth was tingly but fine.) The one really surprising/odd thing we had was the Karee Puff - crescent turnovers with a thin lard pastry vastly superior to any Chinatown relatives, filled w/ lightly curried potatoes w/ (teeny amount of) chicken.
So many not-everywhere dishes that intrigued me; I can see us returning often.
Thanks, Chs, for making our fun day.
163 Vietnamese Sandwich
66 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA
1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215