Pho Viet’s Bánh mì

A sandwich by any other name . . .
By KENJI ALT  |  August 22, 2007

Your meal consists of a soft, crusty baguette, spread with a rich pâté, some cured meats, and pickled vegetables, and, finally, some tender slices of roast pork dripping with succulent juices, all garnished with fresh herbs and a sweet, salty, and savory sauce. Where are you, and how much did you just pay for that? Try less than five bucks at Pho Viet, inside the Super 88 in Allston.

So what makes a bánh mì different from your standard grinder? Let’s start with the fixin’s bar: cilantro and cucumber add a cooling freshness to balance out the heat of the sliced jalapeños. The carrots and daikon (all ingeniously sliced lengthwise so they don’t spill out the back mid-meal) stuffed on top maintain a crisp bite despite their pickled tang. On to the meat: the sliced ham and headcheese in their cold-cut versions — which also feature a lavish spread of indulgently rich pâté — actually have the texture and flavor of real pork, unlike the mystery meats you find in the bánh mì at lesser joints (not to mention the national sandwich chains). In the mood for something hot? Try the grilled beef, pork, chicken, or tofu version. The tender meat (or non-meat) of your choice is doused in a lemongrass marinade, sliced thin, and grilled. The sharp and sugary marinade caramelizes deeply on the grill, offering a depth of flavor that cuts through the soy- and fish-sauce-based dressing that finishes off every sandwich.

For the most authentic experience, make sure you use those three magic words, which let any Vietnamese restaurant know that you mean business: “Extra-spicy, please.”

Available for $3 at Pho Viet in the 88 Food Connection, 1095 Comm Ave, in Allston. Call 617.523.8820.

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