Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Banh Mi Hung Phat


To most people Montreal is synonymous with the French-Canadian delicacy of poutine. J and I have a deep love for poutine but Montreal for us is about exploring my family's Vietnamese roots as well. My mom is an amazing cook and bar none makes the best homemade spring rolls and chicken pho noodle soup. The one dish that is best left to the professionals is the humble but oh so delicious banh mi sandwich. 

Marche Hung Phat has mastered the art of assembling a good 'ole banh mi sandwich. At a mere $3.50 in Canadian dollars/$3.32 in U.S. Dollars at the current exchange rate (that's no typo!), this deal blows the $5 footlong Subway sandwich out of the water. What makes a classic banh mi sandwich so good you ask? Let's break it down: 

- The Baguette: Did you know Vietnamese cuisine has a lot of French influences? Case in point--the very foundation of any sandwich--the bread. Banh mi literally translates to bread. What's unique about the Vietnamese version is that it's made from a combination of wheat and rice flours. The result is a crispy crust yet light innard, the perfect vehicle for meaty accroutrements.

-The Filling: A classic banh mi has a schmear of liver pate and homemade garlic mayo (other very French components) with thinly sliced layers of ham and pork bologna called cha lua. You can actually find cha lua at the Asian markets here in Albany if you want to give a go at making your own homemade banh mi sandwich. 

-The Greens: Must include pickled carrots and daikon, fresh crisp spears of cucumber, cilantro, and slices of bird chillies for a spicy kick. 

A good banh mi is a fine balance of the above elements. It's layers of flavors and textures in a humble sandwich. One bite and it's a party in your mouth: crispy, crunchy, spicy, meaty, salty, sour, umami. Banh mi sandwiches at Marche Hung Phat are that special. Maybe it's because of its location in the heavily French-influenced province of Quebec, or maybe it's because those ladies behind the counter just assemble your sandwich to order with love. By the way, every sandwich is customized to your liking so it really is made with love.  You can even deviate and order other banh mi sandwiches made with chicken, tofu, Vietnamese sausage, or pork meatball or go in a completely different direction with other Vietnamese soup dishes.

But really, make it a point to order yourself a #2 Classic Banh Mi at Marche Hung Phat. It's what they are known for. Best $3.50 you'll ever spend on "fast food" It's also conveniently located near  Little Italy and Marche Jean Talon's public farmer's market where you'll find more good eats and free samples along the way. -R



4 comments:

  1. love Vietnamese food! yum!

    xx Alecia with www.likesof.us

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  2. Any good Banh Mi around Albany?

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    1. Good..not so much. Kim's on Madison Ave serves a banh mi that's NYC-esque; the Asian supermarkets on Central Ave and Colvin Ave ships theirs from NYC; and Pho Yum makes a version too but on ciabatta which we can't bring ourselves to try. But feel free to discover on your own!

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    2. Thanks!

      We'll need to try Kim's. Pho Yum's was really disappointing. Nearest we've adored is from Miss Saigon, in Amherst, MA.

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