Friday June 11: 9011 Garvey Ave C, Rosemead
When we decided to spend the Summer of Sandwich stuffing our faces with sandwiches, one exciting impetus was that we’d get to go back to Bánh Mì My-Tho, a fairly simple but well-loved (hey, it’s Aziz Ansari! wait, where did Aziz Ansari go?) bánh mì, broken rice, and summer roll place we’d gone to a few times over the last fifteen years. But never enough! Because (spoiler alert): bánh mì might be the best sandwich. Period. Tune in for our end of Summer of Sandwich recap, of course, where we might just come to a firmer conclusion. Anyway: bánh mì are great, so great that we half-want to open our own pop-up. (Bánh Mì Myself and I isn’t taken, is it?)
We aren’t really going to do that, since we’re not trying to, you know, perpetuate historical oppression through food so much. Itself an emblem of colonialism, the bánh mì is an interesting sandwich, historically (as probably all sandwiches are interesting historically). Quick history: The Terrible Colonialist French colonized “French Indochina” in the mid-19th century, taking over parts of present-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and the Chinese territory Guangzhouwan … and, as colonizers do, they brought their food with them, including of course the baguette. And, as the colonized tend to do, they eventually fought off the idiot colonizers, and, along the way, made vast improvements to the food—no simple ham and butter baguette here.
Quick aside: There are many delicious foods that have come out of colonialism. The gin and tonic. The bánh mì. Jerk chicken. The green tea frappuccino. (Certainly our sandwich gold-standard: the Xoco Milanesa Torta.) Not the McRib which is just stupid. Would we give away our chance to eat all these great foods ever again to undo the actual times of enslavement, servitude, and the legacies that hang over us now? Well yeah, no shit. Take my delicious sandwich, take it, take them all. But I know that’s an empty gesture, and this is just a tiny blog that like three people are reading, and it’s safe, and fun, I mean we’re just talking sandwiches, after all…and maybe just raising a little shady context along the way.
So: Today we ordered three bánh mì: the ‘special,’ which comes with pate, grilled pork, and all the cold cuts (Vietnamese pork loaf, steamed and flavored with fish sauce; ham; and head cheese); the grilled pork (marinated with lemongrass and garlic, garnished with green onion & crushed peanut…supposedly); and the caramel chicken (tender slow cooked chicken leg meat in caramel fish sauce).
These sandwiches are good. Also: they’re $4.50. (That’s cheaper than craptastic Subway; the cheapest sandwich we’ve had to this point is almost twice the price.) Could we quibble with various details? Sure—there was no green onion or peanut on our grilled pork; the garnish distribution was wildly uneven, as some had plenty of jalapeno, some had none; some had cilantro, some none; the flavoring of the main garnish itself, the pickled daikon and carrot, could have been much more pronounced; and…that’s really it.
While we might not love the special—a little funky/mushy for us—and, yes, we admittedly and white-ily like the chicken (almost like a teriyaki? but better? says Vieve)…it’s really that grilled pork that’s most amazing: its chewy umaminess carrying along with it the sharp deep tang of lemongrass and garlic, the light acidic funky crunch of the garnish, the bright slip of cilantro, the fresh slice of cucumber, the faint heat of jalapeno, all perfectly encased in a soft but toasted baguette … all those flavors, the sweet, the spicy, the tang, the savory, the salty, all coming together into bite after doughy bite…? I mean: Yes, please. It’s true that the sad and too-familiar history behind them (basically: WHITE PEOPLE IN POWER ARE ALWAYS TERRIBLE) might be the sort of thing that would drive Angela Abar mad, but right now, the good people at Bánh Mì My-Tho are simply running a business that sells damn good sandwiches, for which we are and will continue to be grateful.
- Overall Balance/Taste: +2 point
- Quality of Ingredients: +1
- Bread: +1
- Integrity: +1
- X-factor: this!: +1
Overall: 6 points, or Xoco’s Milanesa Torta