Monday, September 8, 2014

Banh Mi Saigon

Bahn Mi-Oh My. This place is kind of a Greensboro institution. Maybe you've heard of it, perhaps your friends have raved about it, or you could be a long-time fan. Either way, Banh Mi Saigon is one of the only places in the Triad (if not the most famous spot) to get classic, authentic Vietnamese sandwiches. At Ethnosh's most recent dinner event, I sampled to my heart's desire, and even the items that I thought sounded "questionable" (coconut tapioca black-eyed pea pudding, anyone?) proved to be delicious.

Bubble Tea is basically a tea-based milkshake. The list of flavors gets as exotic as you want (I indulged in Taro) and the tapioca pearls at the bottom are especially fun to suck through the larger than life straw. The Shrimp Spring Rolls taste fresh, clean - you could eat as many of these as you want guilt-free. The fun part is swirling them in a small dish of a spicy peanut chili sauce.

Coconut Tapioca Cake, BBQ Bahn Mi, Bahn Mi Ga and Taro Bubble Tea!
The Baguette that serves as a vessel for these sandwiches stands alone. The only way to really improve it is to add items like pork, pate, cilantro, jalapenos, pickled daikon...you get the idea. The classic Bahn Mi offers ham, pork, pate, with crunchy vegetables and bright cilantro. There's really nothing else like this flavor combination. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the humble sounding Banh Mi Ga (Rotisserie Chicken) but when such high-quality, fresh ingredients are used, you know it's got to be good. For extra flair and flavor, the Banh Mi Thit Nuong adds a Barbeque dimension. Did I mention that all of these sandwiches are $3? Where can you get a full-sized sandwich for that price these days? I had to do a double take, expecting to see a price like say, $7.95, which would be absolutely appropriate.

As far as dessert, it's worth experimenting. The aforementioned coconut tapioca black-eyed pea pudding was unlike anything I'd ever heard of, but oddly enough, the texture and butteriness of the black-eyed pea was a fantastic complement to the tapioca and flavor of the coconut! Other varieties come with corn and sweet potato. Who knew? Coconut Tapioca Cake is dyed green, using a special food coloring from Thailand. It's gelatinous, a bit gummy, and reminiscent of Rice Krispie Treats. I can't explain it. Once you get past the initial egginess, it's RKT all the way.

Do yourself a favor and get on Ethnosh's email list. They'll introduce you to so many amazing spots that you drive past every day. And go visit Banh Mi Saigon! You will be charmed by the hospitality of the staff and blown away by the authenticity of this cuisine.

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