(readers, cue The Jam - In The City) (clicking on link should open YouTube in a new browser tab so you can hear my selected audio track playing, but you will have to click back on this tab to return)
◘Grilled Homemade 5 Spice Tofu
◘Crispy Pork Belly
◘Soy-Braised "Nirvana" Chicken
◘Panko-crusted Chicken Breast
◘Braised Shortrib and Asian Pear
All are dressed with carrot-daikon slaw and sriracha aioli and served with shrimp chips and Asian slaw.
So I was back in the area. I was hungry. It was close to lunch time. I didn't want to walk to Chinatown and didn't feel like driving to Dorchester. The time was now to try it. I had just had Banh Mi the day before in Providence at Pho Paradise. Why not two days in a row?
Banh Mi University graduate? Oh yes! Summa Cum Laude. The valedictorian who did an independent study at some crazy liberal arts school! No white deli wrap and elastic as one would expect. It was wrapped up in foil like my favorite Burnt End Burrito at Blue Ribbon BBQ. The bread was excellent. Joanne Chang is chef/owner here as well as Flour Bakery. The crust was eggshell thin and flaky. The inside was light and airy with that slightly chewy texture. Overall loaf size was similar to others I have had recently. It was not served on a individual loaf as most are, it was a regular baguette loaf cut to size, so I didn't get heels on both ends (as my family knows, the heel is the best part). The bread is usually the make or break feature for me. The bread was definitely awesome, but did not dominate the sandwich in terms of taste, texture or size. It formed a perfect backround for all of the other ingredients to stand out, when it usually dominates, like David Bowie singing backup vocals. I chose the shortrib to keep to the beef factor as a control in all my Banh Mi reviews, if possible. I was rewarded. The braised shortrib was shredded and was generous in quantity. It was very tender with a super beefy/smoky taste and moist. The cilantro was very fresh with no dark spots, but were leaves only (yeah, I like the stems). The carrots, mixed equally with daikon, generous, tasty, slightly pickled and yet still a bit crisp. The cucumber's place was filled in by Asian pear (in photo of opened Banh Mi, you can see the yellow skin peaking out from under the meat in the upper right corner). It offered the textural component of the cuke, but added an exceptional sweet undertone to the smoky beef favor. Genius! Scallions were not present. I'm not sure about the soy/fish sauce. The meat was dripping, so I don't know that it was added on the Banh Mi, but most likely was in the sauce that the shortribs were marinated/cooked with. The smear of sraracha aioli was very generous and added a nice spicy edge. It was strange when I opened up the foil because it looked like cheese oozing out. I did not ask for spicy as the menu said it was spicy. Jalapenos were on the sandwich, but were pickled like the carrots and daikon. The vinegar did tie the veggies together, but I'd like to try it with fresh. The first bite had good heat and continued at a decent level for the rest of the Banh Mi. The afterburn put a smile on my face for a while after I was done.