212 Main St, Fort Lee, NJ
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sliced Vietnamese Pork Chops with Caramel Sauce
Sliced Pork Belly
Gotta get all that meat stuffed in there.
Chinese Roast Pork, mixed with mayonnaise.
Roti Pork, kind of like a curried pork chop.
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.
If you can’t fit an Oink Mi into your mouth, we also created some pretty nice Banh Mi for “normal” people too.
Chef Tranh makes more Banh Mi to test out for the menu next week.
Crunchy Taro chips to go with the sandwiches.
Grilled Chinese Sausage, Onions and Peppers.
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”
Vegetable and Tofu Oyster Sauce Saute
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.
Grilled Chicken Banh Mi. I liked this one with lots of Sriracha sauce and jalapenos.
Grilled Lemongrass Marinated Beef Skewers
Lemongrass Beef Banh Mi, with garlic mayonnaise.