Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Banh Mi!

It was a long, hungry drive from Sacramento to L.A. Although it's great getting here early, it also means no In-N-Out stop for lunch, since they don't open until 10:30 am. Nobody would likely call glass of orange juice and a banana hearty fare for the road, healthy as it may be.

So, upon arrival I headed to Banh Mi My Tho in Alhambra for a very tasty grilled pork sandwich. In case you've never heard of them, banh mi are a Vietnamese-French hybrid sandwich: French baguette, Vietnamese grilled pork, fresh hot chili slices, cilantro, shredded carrots, green onions, cucumber, vinaigrette. They're a great deal - a sandwich maybe six inches long won't even cost you three bucks.

These guys make the sandwich to order while you wait in a crowded, tiny market-like space, surrounded by Asian language newspapers, a large refrigerator full of all kinds of drinks, packaged foods, a display case full of egg rolls and some kind of meatballs, and other people waiting for their orders.

There's nowhere to eat inside, although there is a bench outside, more for waiting than eating, I'd guess. So, away we went, a sack full of sandwiches in hand.

After starving half a day, I grabbed my sandwich at the first red light and took a bite. The baguette crunched, yielding to softer dough, then the chewier meat and fluffy veggies. I took another bite, as the banh mi's mix of sweet-sour and savory flavors filled my mouth. Hunger began to abate. Another bite - this time with a big hit of fresh chili flavor, then feel the burn. Then cilantro... A very interesting sandwich and a great way rescue myself from the clutches of road trip hunger.

In case you're in the area with some cash money (they don't do plastic) you can visit Banh Mi My Tho at 304 W Valley Blvd in Alhambra.

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