After many delays, I've finally completed my quest to sample every sandwich at this revered Westminster institution!
The last sandwich on my to-do list: shredded pork skin. I'm not at all squeamish about pork skin--I love chicharrones (both the crunchy ones and the spongy ones in sauce), and, of course, the extra-crispy lacquered skin of Chinese roast pork--but I've put off trying this particular sandwich because (1) everything else looked more appetizing whenever it came time for me to order and (2) Professor Salt's description of it sounded pretty awful, and I usually share his tastes. But in the interest of science, I pressed on.
Professor Salt described the shredded pork skin as being a pink chewy slab with an unpleasantly vinegary taste. And I think I actually got to taste this, inadvertently, when I picked up a cold rice noodle salad to go along with my bahn mi one day--it came with a couple of translucent, bright-pink rectangles of nasty, chewy stuff imbued with really acidic vinegar. Eew.
So I wasn't really looking forward to having my whole lunch centered
around the stuff.
But what I got instead was something completely different, and much less offensive. It bore a striking resemblance, in texture and appearance, to Chinese cold shredded jellyfish--except that it tasted slightly porky and was dusted with little bits of shredded pork.
I love cold jellyfish salad (when I was a kid, my parents always reminded me that it was the most expensive thing on the cold platter, so I was not to be greedy and eat it all myself), so I'm not put off by bouncy, crunchy textures--but somehow this jellyfish-like chewiness/crunchiness doesn't really work (at least for me) as a sandwich filling. It went nicely with the pickled veggies. But somehow, it seemed to clash with the bread.
So if the porky shreds I got were their shredded pork skin filling, what on earth was that pink crap that Professor Salt got on his sandwich, and that I got in my rice noodles??
So to sum up this modest project, here are my personal rankings of all the BMCC offerings:
1. Beef (amazing little grilled lemongrass burgers)
2. Chicken (moist and flavorful--didn't impress me at the time, but I was craving it today)
3. (tie) BBQ pork (crisp and tasty), meatball (juicy and savory)
4. (tie) sardine, veggie ham
5. (tie) dac biet (sp?) (aka assorted cold cuts), BBQ meatloaf
7. shredded pork skin (but not as far beneath the others as I had feared)
Technical point: there are officially two dac biet sandwiches, one with headcheese and one without. I always got the one with it, and I assumed the one without can basically be treated as a subset of the original. So I didn't bother officially testing it.
And now I have a sinking feeling that I've forgotten something...!