Dueling Dishes: Bánh Mì Edition
Roast turkey, apple pie, mashed potatoes--today is a day for American classics, food so full of nostalgia and butter that a good long nap is required after eating. And for the next week or so, the flavors of today's feast will certainly linger, finding their way into a pot of turkey soup or a sandwich stuffed with a variety of leftovers, a sweet smear of cranberry sauce across one slice of bread. So with the saturation point of Thanksgiving-related recipes and articles already reached, with every imaginable media outlet offering up that perfect recipe for every Turkey Day classic, today's dueling dishes is going in a completely unrelated direction, having nothing to do with November's third Thursday's brand of feasting. The duel will be between two bánh mì institutions, Bánh Mì Chè Cali and Top Baguette.
Vietnamese flavors take certain cues from France--mayonnaise, baguettes, paté--in this post-colonial treat, found throughout Orange County, especially in Westminster's Little Saigon and the surrounding Vietnamese ex-pat communities. Bánh mì stuffed with a variety of meats can be had, from cold cuts to grilled chicken to head cheese or sardines, but for an easy and mouth-pleasing standard, we ordered barbecued pork sandwiches for this episode of dueling dishes. Top Baguette's sandwich had a few additional ingredients stuffed in its split baguette--spears of cucumber and minced green onion joined the ubiquitous jalapeno, cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon along with the darkly sweet pork. The additional fillings were a welcome addition, the cukes offering a different kind of cooling touch alongside the vinegary crunch of the pickles, offsetting the heat and bite of the jalapeno and green onion. The bread left much to be desired though, with none of the requisite crunchiness and, judging by the lack of the hot smell of yeast and toasted grain in the air, the bread was neither baked or par-baked on premise.
Bánh Mì Chè Cali; 15551 Brookhurst St, Westminster; (714) 839-8185
Top Baguette; 9016 Bolsa Ave, Westminster; (714) 379-7726
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