Bánh Mì @ Vietnam Restaurant, San Francisco

The #6 at Viet Nam on Broadway, San Francisco

Bread may be one of the few foods where the importance of texture can actually trump the importance of flavor. I say this in reference to the bánh mì sandwich at Vietnam Restaurant in San Francisco, which easily ranks as one of the best Vietnamese sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. While it’s almost unfair to highlight the bread in lieu of the deliciously tender slices of grilled marinated pork within, the baguette itself is what truly sets this sandwich apart.

Grilled and slightly charred, the bánh mì crust is thin and delicately crispy, yet the bread itself is perfectly soft and airy, providing little resistance after that initial shattering crunch. Having never traveled to Southeast Asia, I suppose that I lack the authority to vouch for the authenticity of the bánh mì at Vietnam Restaurant, but I suspect that this sandwich is most likely spot on. At the very least, this bánh mì deserves its place among the general pantheon of noteworthy sandwiches, simply for its wonderful flavors and textures.

A friend of mine, who is a chef here in Napa, pondered the possibility of a better bánh mì sandwich somewhere else in San Francisco. It was an intriguing notion, and something I had also wondered myself: could Vietnam Restaurant actually serve the best bánh mì in town, or is there another place that could possibly improve upon this delicious standard? Time will tell, and perhaps there may be a paté-filled bánh mì that supercedes this grilled pork version, but the baguette at Vietnam Restaurant may be untouchable.

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