Battle of the Dishes: Vegetarian Banh Mi Brawl

picresized_1296242435_saigon2.jpg
Victoria Bekiempis
Saigon's version, with rubber band "extra" removed.

Banh mi has quite a rep -- for being a gutbuster on the mean streets of Saigon and New York. Pickled carrot and radish slivers, cilantro, cucumber slices, pâté, grilled meat, and occasionally cheese burst out of a French baguette in this notorious sandwich. Chefs typically slather on mayo and butter before filling the bread. Heavy on fat, oil, and protein, the ever-popular hero breaks many rules of balanced dining, which probably explains why it's damned delectable.

Even vegetarian varieties of this sub should come with a side of elastic-waist pants. But quantity, a given with banh mi, does not always mean quality, so we decided to see who makes a better meatless version: the Lower East Side's Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli or Park Slope's Lotus Vietnamese Sandwiches.

Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli, 369 Broome Street, 212-219-8341
At this deli, the $4.95 mock curry chicken sub practically explodes with slaw -- so much that the sandwich actually needs to be contained by a rubber band. The faux poultry -- a uniquely layered, spicy tofu with an eerily fleshy texture -- doesn't taste avian, but still satisfies. The light spice adds necessary warmth to the offering without being overly salty. Unlike the restaurant's porcine and poultry options, this banh mi doesn't come with a creamy dressing. The lack of sauce doesn't make or break the pick, which suffers from literally bigger problems: Because the sandwich borders on overstuffed, you can't really enjoy the cilantro or cuke spear, which slip out of the way when you try and take a bite.


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
2 comments
T.L.
T.L.

Interesting head to head on the two meatless banh mis. You point to two winners in my book.

If you're obsessed with Banh Mi, here's a look at the first sitcom about a Vietnamese sandwich shop in NYC. Insert Plug Here: http://vimeo.com/13377972

Jim
Jim

Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and then call for Peace on Earth.

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

_____________

Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: http://veganvideo.org & http://tryveg.com

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Loading...