The New York Times' coverage of Vietnamese food has always been laughable–who can ever forget its decade-late feature on Sriracha or it declaring 2009 the “year of the bánh mì” (while neglecting to mention Little Saigon among the nation's Vietnamese enclaves) about seven years after they penetrated mainstream culture? But over the weekend, the Gray Lady proved itself not to be merely ignorant, but also downright mendacious, when its T Magazine throwaway published a piece on the best bánh mìs in America–and not one listed was in Little Saigon.
You know Little Saigon, right, New York Times? Largest concentration of Vietnamese in the world outside Vietnam? You'd think they'd know a bit more about crafting a proper bánh mì than, say, Atlanta (which made the list), but not in your myopic, parachute-journalism world.
Rant continued after the jump!
The whole piece (with the pretentious title “Banh Mi In America”) is laughable and typical of the empty swagger that Times reporters exhibit at their worst. “Beware the banh mi over $6,” writer Jordan Michelman warns, as if he actually knows bánh mì economics, and him willing to pay even six bucks for a Viet sandwich shows he doesn't. He even tries to posit the bánh mì as a bit of a “Northwestern phenomenon” just because he listed Seattle and Portland as having superior bánh mìs–a funny proposition on the latter because I once dated a Vietnamese girl from Irvine who attended Lewis & Clark College and deemed the Vietnamese food in the Rose City TERRIBLE.
Houston–which has a large Vietnamese community–gets no mention. San Jose gets mentioned via its mighty Lee's Sandwiches empire–but Lee's is hardly the best bánh mì in town (forgot the name of the shop near a Latino theater near the convention center, but it was a goodie). In fact, the only Southern California bánh mì that gets any attention is the overrated luxe lonchera Nom Nom Truck, which only shows Michelman is a scenester of the worst kind–and if he's a reporter in Southern California in search of great bánh mís and doesn't venture past a Twitter feed and into the San Gabriel Valley or Little Saigon, then he's just a pendejo of the worst degree.
No apologies, Jordan: We take our bánh mìs seriously 'round here. Here's a list I thought up in a second that'll beat any on your list: Thanh Tam for Americanized bánh mìs. Top Baguette for awesome baguettes. Lemongrass beef at Nhu Lan Bakery. A breakfast bánh mì at Tan Hoang Huong. Pork four ways in one bánh mì at Ba Le. And the best of them all at Bánh Mì Cho Cu. If you had bothered to contact any of us Forkers (or anyone in Orange County–you know, home to the largest Vietnamese community in the United States), we would've been more than happy to send you to those and others–but you didn't. But, hey, kudos to you for scoring a paycheck from the Times for an article that's a fraud.