Call them leftovers of French Imperialism. Vietnamese Banh mi sandwiches are tasty little imports of culinary mishmash. They’re one part French, three parts Vietnamese – and you can find them from Tacoma to Tampa. The French brought crusty baguettes, mayo and pté to the banh mi party. The Vietnamese contributed marinated meats and vegetables, cilantro, spicy peppers and fish sauce.
The sandwiches are tuned to the four flavor principles of Southeast Asian cuisine – hot, sour, salty, sweet. The flavor of banh mi – pronounced “bon me” – broadcasts big on salty-sour, lighter on sweet-spicy.
In Tacoma, there’s a nexus of banh mi in the Lincoln District. Turn a circle at the intersection of 38th and Yakima and within a one-block radius you’ll find at least five shops or restaurants that serve it. The sandwiches usually cost $2.50-$3.50, making them about as recession friendly as any portable lunch around town.
Here is a look at four Lincoln banh mi sandwiches, and an upscale version served at Tacoma’s Pacific Grill. Read more »