One of our visitors treated us to a boatload of banh mi from a new place in San Jose on Story Road called Phat Tri. The owner of the now-closed L’Amour des Baguettes shops has a hand in it.
The banh mi are $3.50 each using a skinny baguette that’s about a foot and a half long. Our friend brought an assortment with the veggie garnishes (cilantro, pickled coarsely shredded daikon and carrots, cucumber, jalapeño slices) and Vietnamese “butter” packed separately for travel. I had a chance to try the headcheese and pate, steamed pork and pate, and ham combination.
Phat Tri’s bread is baked in-house. We reheated the sandwiches in the oven before serving and the baguettes crisped up beautifully. This bread’s quite different with the crisp crust cracking into delicate flakey layers and the interior’s notably moister and softer than other examples. We were heating up and eating the leftovers over the course of a week, and I have to marvel at how well the bread perked up. Even the filled baguettes that had gone soggy in the fridge and drooped over revived to crispy crust and tender crumb once toasted. Phat Tri also sells smaller size torpedo rolls, 5/$1.
Presented with a whole tub of “butter” or “beurre” instead of just a swath on a roll, this was my chance to delve into the mysteries of this Vietnamese condiment. Some say it’s a blend of butter (or margarine) and mayonnaise; others claim it’s made from egg yolks and vegetable oil.
Now having ingested several spoonfuls of the butter, I’m pretty sure that Phat Tri’s version has no dairy in it. The texture’s like a thick and glossy yolk-heavy aioli with the sunny yellow color of lemon curd. There’s no discernable acid, making it different from a mayonnaise. A slight sweetness rounds out the finish and I pick up some savoriness as well as slight granularity that might come from powdered garlic. In any case, I love the stuff and the richness it lends to the sandwich.
The Vietnamese-style cold cuts were thinly sliced and evenly applied over the hollowed baguettes. But what really took Phat Tri’s sandwiches over the top was the pate. Surprising because I usually prefer the creamier styles over Phat Tri’s coarse-ground spread, but the fine hand with seasoning and non-muddy taste made the pate a stand-out.
Huong Lan on Tully Road has been my go-to for banh mi in San Jose. And I enjoyed my one jaunt to Thanh Huong Sandwich. But I think that Phat Tri will be taking the lead in my Vietnamese sandwich rotation.
Huong Lan Sandwiches
1655 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122
Thanh Huong Sandwich
2593 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA 95111
L'Amour des Baguettes
1181 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122
1210 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122