Legit Banh Mi Sandwiches Have Arrived!
Forgive me for being a banh mi snob. Greater Lafayette has been lucky to have numerous establishments from Bistro 501 to Black Sparrow offer up their own takes on banh mi sandwiches, each with their own spin to make them their own. I’ve enjoyed these unique sandwiches in the absence of more traditional banh mis, but I always referred to them as “banh mis” with Dr. Evil air quotes. But now Banh Mi Eatery has arrived to deliver straight-up Vietnamese banh mis that almost brought a lonely teardrop to my eye.
While the bread was slightly lighter than the banh mis I grew up on in Vietnamese shops in Toronto’s Chinatown (Banh Mi Eatery’s are more akin to po’ boy rolls), their sandwiches are, to my taste buds, perfect. They offer a number of protein choices including marinated pork, chicken or tofu, but I went with the classic filled with a variety of vietnamese cold cuts, cilantro sprigs, jalapenos, pate, cucumbers, and pickled daikon radishes and carrots. The salty and rich meats and pate are cut through superbly with the crisp freshness of all the veggies, giving delicious contrasting flavors and textures with every bite. For the uninitiated be warned that the pickled daikons definitely have a certain funk that some might find off-putting at first, but rest assured that when you start eating, it melts into the background and enhances the other flavors around it, just like how one becomes accustomed to the funk of a good soft or blue cheese. Do not fear the funk!
Banh Mi Eatery also offers a number of sides and rice plates, including the fried pork chop plate pictured above, paired with Vietnamese-style egg rolls. Drizzled with nuoc cham, a lime, chile, garlic and fish sauce-based sauce, the rice plate again offers a nice balance of meaty flavors with bright, sweet and sour notes–something that Vietnamese cuisine is famous for. Again, the sauce has some seafoody-funk to it, but it’s there to provide a umami punch that is integral to the pork chop and egg rolls.
I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to see Banh Mi Eatery enter the Greater Lafayette food scene. There’s still plenty of room for the number of yummy “banh mis” across town, but I hope everyone is ready to open their hearts, and mouths, to some honest-to-goodness banh mis (now without quotation fingers).
Banh Mi Eatery
1201 S. 4th Street
Lafayette, IN 47905