NJ Dining: Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches at Mo Pho and Saigon R.


MoPho
212 Main St, Fort Lee, NJ
(201) 363-8886

Saigon R.
58 W Palisade Ave, Englewood, NJ
(201) 871-4777

Related Article: Saigon R. and Mo’ Pho’

If you’ve been following the latest trends in the New York City dining scene, no doubt you’ve read and heard about the most recent Vietnamese sandwich craze — also known as the Banh Mi that’s sweeping the Metropolitan area. If you take trends at face value, you’ve probably also read the reports from Eater that the Banh Mi has “Run its course”.

The fact of the matter is, the Banh Mi is the right sandwich at the right time. And let’s face it, here in New Jersey, we’re a little slow on the uptake when following up on New York City trends. But I submit to you that when we set our mind to something, and when we get around to it, we do it better than anyone else.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

A few weeks ago — prior to the publication of the New York Times article which catapulted the Banh Mi into the front and center collective foodie consciousness — Chef KT Tran (of Mo Pho and Saigon R. fame) decided that she needed to add some new offerings to her menu, and I suggested Banh Mi, particularly as I knew KT could put her creative skills and 30 years of Vietnamese cooking expertise behind it. KT’ and her family have operated Vietnamese restaurants since the 1970’s in the New York Area, and we’ve been very lucky to have her in Northern New Jersey, where her bold Southeast Asian flavors are tailored to meet the tastes of a very diverse customer base.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

A typical store-bought Banh Mi from New York’s Chinatown. Usually these go for 2 or 3 dollars apeice. But there’s not much meat on this thing.

Fully aware of my past “Ultimate Sandwich” exploits with Chef Christine Nunn, at Picnic Caterers, Chef Tran knew she had to up the ante in over-thet-top sandwich insanity, particularly when competing with Nunn’s Rendevous at Burger Mountain, the Ultimate BLT and the Foie You.

We knew of one weapon in the Vietnamese culinary arsenal that could hold up to these giants: PORK. And lots of it.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

I submit for your appreciation, the Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich: The Oink Mi.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

What goes into an Oink Mi? All of this stuff. Clockwise from the top, BBQ Pork Belly,  Fresh Cilantro and Jalapeno slices, BBQ Chinese Pork with Mayonnaise, Pickled Vegetables (center), Vietnamese Pork Chop, Pork Meatballs, Vietnamese Pate’, Roti Pork.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

No mere Banh Mi French sandwich bread could be used to hold such a massive amount of fillings. This called for something really hardy with a solid support structure — Ciabatta Loaf.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

Pate’ …

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

Sliced Vietnamese Pork Chops with Caramel Sauce

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

Sliced Pork Belly

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

Pork Meatballs

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

Gotta get all that meat stuffed in there.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

Chinese Roast Pork, mixed with mayonnaise.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

Roti Pork, kind of like a curried pork chop.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

The “Oink Mi“, the ultimate Vietnamese sandwich that Chef KT Tranh and I devised to promote her new Banh Mi offerings at Saigon R. in Englewood and Mo Pho in Fort Lee.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

If you can’t fit an Oink Mi into your mouth, we also created some pretty nice Banh Mi for “normal” people too.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Chef Tranh makes more Banh Mi to test out for the menu next week.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Crunchy Taro chips to go with the sandwiches.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Grilled Chinese Sausage, Onions and Peppers.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Grilled Chinese Sausage, Onions and Peppers with Pickled Vegetables. I’m referring to this one as “The Jersey” or the “Sopran-Mi” or the “Banh-a-Bing”

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Vegetable and Tofu Oyster Sauce Saute

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Vegetable and Tofu Oyster Sauce Saute and Pickled Vegetables. The nice spring vegetable flavor is augmented by the use of Asian Basil and hot Jalapeno Peppers. This one was Rachel’s favorite.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Grilled Chicken Banh Mi. I liked this one with lots of Sriracha sauce and jalapenos.

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Grilled Lemongrass Marinated Beef Skewers

Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches by you.

Lemongrass Beef Banh Mi, with garlic mayonnaise.

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14 Responses to NJ Dining: Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches at Mo Pho and Saigon R.

  1. sarah says:

    oh. my. god. what can I say?? I’m living in seoul, land of boutiful asian food, and yet i would give up bibimbap for the next ten years to be able to taste a bite of any of these! thankfully, my cousins live in fort lee, and as soon as I come back to the states, I’ll be hitting up mo pho for a visit!

  2. angelle says:

    im so glad to come across this post and this blog!

    i’m originally from northern nj, have spent the past year in sd, and the thing i love most abt sd is how accessible vietnamese (esp bahn mi) is here. im moving back to jerz soon, and was lamenting having nothing near by… but now thanks to you i’ll have options! plus, i’m just happy about your blog in general bc it’s hard finding out the good eats in northern nj. :)

  3. Christine says:

    Wowwwwwwwieeee! I think I have to go get one today!

  4. Biyootz says:

    I was at Saigon Republic a few weeks ago for dinner and noticed they had a lunch menu, and mentioned the banh mi, and might they see their way to doing one.

    Our waiter said the big obstacle was finding the right bread, but it looks like they found it.

    Can’t wait to give it a shot.

  5. Ubu Walker says:

    I confirm that the Banh Mi sandwich at Saigon R. was delish! Wish it had more pork in it though. Truly wonderful.

  6. wineguy says:

    that is so unfair to someone who apparently lives in the bahn mi wasteland that is the pacific northwest. but I will not give up hope, and you have inspired me to t5ake to the streets to find cheap bahn mi satisfaction. although I fear the Oink Mi will remain the stuff of dreams………..

  7. CK|GH|JK says:

    I was deathly sad to find out that the sandwiches were $8. The original place in Chinatown only costs me $3.75. I actually made a trip out to Chinatown after reading your blog to treat bunch of friends who never had it before. It was one great nite of grubbing.

  8. Steve P says:

    Wow, what’s the deal that Saigon R is listed for sale on Craigslist? That would be a tremendous blow, this is still one of the unique and best Asian restos in Bergen. Food is unique and prepared with care, served in that little homey environment. Say it’s not so!! Long live Saigon R!!

  9. Now that’s what I call a sandwich. Wineguy – what about Binh Minh? An Xuyen?

  10. I tried the sandwich at Mo Pho and was disappointed in the bread. The sandwich needs a Balthazar baguette.

  11. Anthony A says:

    So far the best variation on the Bahn Mi has been at Baoguette on 26 th and Lexington in NYC. It is seems that they are using the same approach at Saigon R with all house made products.

    I need to find some time to pay a visit to Fort Lee.

    Thanks for the post1

  12. Vince says:

    There’s just now a banh mi “craze” in NY/NJ?? Are you kidding? The “craze” period ended in Seattle 6 years ago and now its settled comfortably into lunchtime staple status.

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