I must once again, and ashamedly admit, that I have yet to mosey down to the Vietnamese places in southeast CC. I have, however, eaten A LOT of banh mis in my life and I must say that these were very, very well-made Banh Mis (not the best, but in the top 2 maybe). Ive avoided S&C because it looked a bit Westernized with Ham & Cheese & Tuna Salad on the menu, no place I really expected to get solid Vietnamese food but I was certainly proven wrong. Good quality French bread, toasted, then a generous slathering of pate, cold cuts a bit more thinly sliced than Ive had on other Banh mis (maybe thats an Americanized touch I dig, dunno), carrots, cilantro (stems could have been trimmed a bit), and a cucumber spear, and the birds eye chile. Mmmm
That sealed the deal for me. This was one of the first times Ive ever gone to a Banh mi place w/out a language barrier at all as there was a young girl there who spoke perfect English. I said I wanted the spice chilis, first, she pointed to the Sriracha, nope, then she pointed to the pickled chiles you see as a condiment in Chinese places, nope, then, she pulled a little Dixie cup from behind the counter of thinly sliced little peppers of fiery death and JACKPOT! They had the good stuff and it delivered, perfectly countered with the cooling cucumber. I talked with her a awhile about Banh mi making styles, and was so encouraged I picked up some spring rolls, jackpot again. Long, lots of shrimp, ROAST pork hunks, not the dry slices of white pork meat you often see in Vietnamese spring rolls, but pork pieces that tasted PORKY. Mmmm
I should probably mention that this took some doing to get them to know that I was down with the Banh mi. When I walked in and they saw a non-Asian, the conversation went roughly as follows:
Girl: The Thai Chicken salad is very good. Or, if youre looking to try something different, we have a Vietnamese hoagie.
Me: (flexing all my Chowhound know-how) You mean a Banh-Mi? (asked confidently, though with questionable pronunciation at best).
Girl: Yes! Youve had them?
Me: Oh yeah, lots, but I only really like them if youve got the good peppers.
(and then the above mentioned pepper exchange ensued)
As usual, the best thing about Banh mis is that they are only $2.50 and taste like a $5 or $10 sandwich at times and this was the case here. Spring rolls were 2 for $2.95 and also well worth it.
900 Arch Street