Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Battle of the Best Banh Mi in Austin

Lily's Sandwich used to be incredible. The best. I used to just close my eyes and forget about what's in the head cheese and pate they use in their Dac Biet (Special) banh mi, and lose myself in crunchy, chewy, buttery banh mi ecstasy. Now, you take a bite, and you can't escape from the strange hard chunks from the head cheese and an impossible amount of jalepenos. Quality and quantity of the ingredients have taken a plunge. Which led me to my search for better banh mi.

Lily's Sandwiches: Dac Biet Banh Mi
I read the Austin Chronicle review of Baguette House and thought I found my replacement for Lily's. No such luck. Although Baguette House bakes its own baguettes, the bread did nothing for me. I did not hear the satisfying krrrr krrrr krrrr when I bit down, I didn't see small cracks form on the baked surface as I applied pressure, and I did not see bread dust bounce off the surface of the baguette as I chomped. The baguette was too bready. The grilled beef tasted ok. I wanted more lemongrass flavor. It needed to lighten up a bit...perhaps with a bit of lime juice. As is, the beef just sinks into the bread passively. I didn't taste my friend's BBQ pork banh mi, but she signaled a so-so. The pickled daikon and carrots didn't taste very fresh to me. I bought this in the evening, so maybe it's the leftovers from the day.

Baguette House: Grilled Beef Banh Mi and BBQ Pork Banh Mi
The current winning banh mi is Cafe de Bella next to Hong Kong Market! As you can see from the photo, the baguette is nice and crusty on the outside, and yes, it's chewy on the inside. The amount of butter, meat, and pickled daikon and carrots is proportionate to the bread, and the taste is awesome. I was relieved that the meat they use didn't have alot of the stringy fat that occassionally encircles slices of pork. That makes chewing so much easier.

Cafe de Bella: Grilled Pork Banh Mi

1 comment:

  1. I really like the grilled beef banh mi in Cafe de Bella. But you have to eat it right there, don't take it to go, because they put a lot of delicious sauce on it! If you take it togo, the sauce will soak up the bread. Even that, I still eat up the whole thing real quick.