Thursday, March 24, 2005

Banh mi story in the OC Weekly

I've been in love with the Vietnamese sandwiches called banh mi for some time now, and did an extensive taste test in Little Saigon back in January 2004. I wrote a two part review on Chowhound based on that survey: part one is here, part two is here.

I got a wild hair to pitch a query letter to some magazine offering to write about banh mi, so I held off writing more about it. Concerned about publishing rights and so forth, but mainly because I could slack. As it turns out, the food editor at the OC Weekly read the Chowhound writeups and approached me to write one for him. That story came out in today's edition.


Blogger Suebob said...

Love the banh mi story. You did a great job.

Does Top Baguette have a veg version?

3/26/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profesoor Salt, I read your article about Banh Mi and took notice of your comment that Top Baguette has "Orange County's best baguette". Not believing that it could be better than the authentic baguette at Champagne Bakery, I headed over to Top Baguette to try it out. The result is that Champagne Bakery's baguette is still clearly better than the one at Top Baguette. I urge you to go try it and then to let your readers know that you "thought" Top Baguette's baguette was best until you went to Champagne Bakery. I do not by the way own or work for or have any relationship with Champagne Bakery accept as an ocassional customer.

3/26/2005 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Professor Salt said...

Suebob - yes, Top Baguette has a great vegetarian version. They generously flavor the vermicelli with sesame oil, so assuming you like that toasty flavor, you'll dig it.

Anonymous - Champagne makes a pain ordinaire and a pain levain. I assume you're talking about the first, which I agree is good. If you read part one of my Chowhound banh mi writeup (see above), I talk more about the spectrum of baguette styles, and the contexts in which they're appropriate. For their use in banh mi, my preference still goes to Top Baguette. To each his own.

3/28/2005 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Professor Salt, you may be right that one type of baguette is better than another for sandwich purposes...BUT, beware what happened to the bagel. Once they started using bagels for sandwiches, the delicious traditional bagel with the crusty outside (the kind you could slice your finger with a knife with if you weren't careful because the knife would slide down the side of the bagel rather than penetrate the crust) has all but disappeared. They are even difficult to find in New York these days.

3/30/2005 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Diamond Dog said...

I went to Top Baguette on Sunday based on your recomendation. The guy taking the order seemed almost "mad" that we were there. Total grouch. It was at 1pm so they were not closing and there were no other customers.

The bread is probably the best I have had, but the jalepenos and cilantro seemed to have no flavor. I got the #6 combo. It was OK. I actaully like the taste of the Lee's combo better. But the bread is not as good.

At Top Baguette, they put all kinds of stuff in sandwhich. IMHO way too much. I didnt care for the vermecelli noodles in it.

I also ordered that sugar cane drink with the kumquat & lime juice that is made fresh there. Didnt really care for that either. Not that theirs was bad, I just think I don't like that drink.

Any more Bahn Mi recomendations based on my comments?

4/11/2005 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Top Baguette, and the attitude of the guy behind the counter turned me right off. I think I will stick to "Bahn Mi & Che Cali" on the northeast corner of Brookhurst and Westminster; friendlier service and better bread, IMO.

4/11/2005 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Literally translated, “bánh mì” means “bread with,” not “sandwich.” This distinction becomes apparent at Tai Buu Paris Bakery (9039 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 101, Westminster, 714-895-6114). Order a bánh mì ga at the takeout counter, and you’ll get a shredded-chicken sandwich. If you sit down and order cari ga bánh mì off the menu, though, a waiter will carry out a bowl of chicken curry stewed in turmeric-scented coconut milk; the bread comes as a half-baguette.

You missed it by a mile and then some.

Literally translated, ba'nh mi` means "cake made from wheat" ba'nh = cake; mi` = wheat.

Generally, ba'nh mi` is understood as sandwich, except when it is served on the side with liquidy food: curry, beefstew, and/or sunny-side-up eggs.

ALSO, Vietnamese usually think of banh mi as breakfast food! It used to be expensive food eaten by the middle class, now turned into a type of "handheld" fastfood a la McD for the average Vietnamese Joe.

It is better to consult a native when discussing/writing about cultural issues like this.


8/09/2005 02:20:00 PM  

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