Providence RI 02906
How much: $4.00
Time of visit: a Monday about 12 Noon
Banh Mi. Not an easy find in Rhode Island. But the challenge to find one was on the list of things to do...
(readers, cue Green Day- Welcome To Paradise) (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)
This day's travels took me to the Providence RI area around midday. I had been in the area a month ago armed with some info about "Asian Bakery" on Broad Street. I found the place, but the door was locked and a sign in the window "Be back 30 minutes". I waited 45 in vain. Nothing. Several people had posted on a popular food website asking when it was open. I got there on this second trip and it was closed again. I didn't even get out of the vehicle to look. I think they must be closed or despite the hours posted only open weekends. In one post, the author noted that she went across the street to a Pho place and got a Banh Mi. I pulled into the parking lot for Pho Paradise and took a chance.
Pho Paradise is a sit down Viet restaurant in a nicer building set back from the street with an Asian grocery sharing the building.
I asked the hostess if they served Banh Mi and she said yes. I took a seat and decided to eat in the restaurant instead of nella macchina. I looked through the menu three times and couldn't find any mention of Banh Mi as a sandwich. There was a Banh Mi Chien Tom which translated to Shrimp Mousse Toast. When she came over to take my order, I asked for a Vietnamese beef sandwich to make sure that she had not misunderstood me. She took the order, no questions asked.
Out it came. My first Banh Mi in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations!
Banh Mi University graduate? Yeah, I guess. Note the white deli wrap, even though I ate there and did not take out. The bread was fair. The crust was crisp, but the inside was not quite chewy and a bit dry. The meat was tasty and not at all fatty, but by far the smallest portion I've been served. The beef was very thin with quarter-sized pieces. Cilantro were leaves only, no stems (I like the stems and think it adds a bit bolder taste). There was no hint of darkness on the few leaves that made it onto my sandwich. Carrots were a bit more generous, but not so with the daikon. The cucumber was fresh, but very thin. No scallions were visible. The Banh Mi did drip a very little bit, but not seem to have much fish/soy sauce on it. There was mayo and it seemed to be fairly sweet which added a nice overtone to the sandwich. Jalapeno slices were added on top and did seem mildly hot. The sandwich had a very slight afterburn. Size was a bit smaller than most. I did ask for "spicy".
When I paid for lunch, I asked if had missed the Banh Mi on the menu. She said that it was not on the menu, but they would make it if requested.
Parking can be tough on Broad street, but Pho Paradise has a big parking lot.
At $4.00 a bit more expensive than most and certainly not very generous with the ingredients, but if you are in the Ocean State you don't have to drive far to get the real thing. I'll be back one more time to check on "Asian Bakery" to see if they ever open and if not, retry Pho Paradise to see if I caught them on a bad day.
I'd give the Banh Mi a 3.0B/6. Quality was good, but it would have scored higher if the ingredients would have been a bit more generous.
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