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Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area Banh Mi

old reliables and building your own banh mi....


Restaurants & Bars 22

old reliables and building your own banh mi....

passing thru | May 23, 2004 06:31 PM

weekend eats were comfortable faves; at zoe's on saturday i followed limster's recent post and went with the lion's head meatball. i'd simply echo what he said, a nice flavorful dish all in all. also good were the steamed juicy pork buns and a homey ma po tofu, though i foolishly forgot to mention that i wanted it spicy, so it was a bit on the mild side. but very good comfort food, and the lack of spice was my own damn fault.

sunday got down to james hook and co for a lobster roll....not the cheapest sandwch at 10$, but who expects a cheap lobster roll? the lobster salad was meaty chunks of lobster, just lightly dressed with mayo on a standard hot dog type bun. i'm a fair purist with lobster and do hate when a lobster roll is too gussied up--and the ones at hook's really aren't. you can always count on these, and they're extra good if you walk across the pedestrian bridge and go eat 'em out by the courthouse.

later strolled into the north end for cappucino and sfogliatelle at the modern. given the rep this place has on this board, i likely need say no more about that! also stopped at sel de la terre along the way to pick up a loaf of amazing country sourdough bread and a ham and cheese croissant. haven't eaten the latter yet, but i assume it's the usual flaky and savory goodness that i usually get there...

so then it was back to chinatown to do some shopping, and here's where i started thinking. picked up a couple banh mi's at lu's (my first trip here i distinctly thought that mix was better, but i thought i'd give it another shot) and some of that "nem chua hue" sour pork they sell (i have NO idea what you're supposed to do with this stuff). i'll eat the banh mi later and pass judgement on them then, but as of late i've been wondering if i shouldn't just try to make my own banh mi. i mean, i'd gladly pay an extra .50 or so to get a banh mi that had good bread like the old ones at saigon sandwich, but it seems like the standard is to keep 'em cheap so you get the cheap bread....(don't know if this is true of ba le in dorchester, but it seems to be the rule in chinatown).

so, anyone have any input on building the perfect homemade boston cold cut banh mi? i guess i'd start with a quality baguette from any of the good bakeries around, but i'm not sure where the best place to get the other ingredients or even what they all are, exactly. there's the pate-ish spread--is that the sour pork stuff that i got, or is it something different? the usual banh mi also usually seems to have two cold cut type items--a hamlike, almost rubbery textured salty one and a softer whitish type sometimes with peppercorns. (these may very well vary, i don't know...) do they sell these items anywhere around? any one know what they're called? i remember that the old saigon sandwich sold this kind of thing, but i haven't been in the place that's there for awhile now. (i suppose i should have gone by there today while i was down there) or maybe there's some extra cool vietnamese cold cut store a bit further afield than chinatown?

other than that, i suppose i can find good vendors for cukes and cilantro and chilis and carrot and mayo. the one other item that i used to sometimes get on a banh mi and wonder about is pickled there a particular type that gets used that you can get at markets, or should i just wing something on my own?

anyway, thanks for any tips (and i guess i'd take suggestions on where to score the tofu stuff for vegetarian banh mi, since the gf doesn't go for the cold cut thing--though i suspect the answer to that is ba le bakery) or thoughts. seems like i should be able to build a nice boston banh mi on my own...

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