This "playful take" on the Vietnamese sandwich has some familiar components: housemade pickled daikon and carrots and large, fragrant pieces of pork belly. Cucumbers, jalapeno, and cilantro also make an appearance, but the flavor here is less Vietnam and more Los Angeles artisanal.
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To get to Dong Phuong Restaurant and Bakery, drive east from downtown New Orleans until you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. Then keep going. Eventually you'll reach the part of New Orleans East that is home base for the area's substantial Vietnamese community, and here you can find some of the best banh mi this side of the Pacific Ocean.
A Vietnamese sandwich shop classic, tender pork gets marinated in a sweet fish sauce-based marinade before being quick-grilled and stuffed into a sandwich with jalapeño peppers, pickled carrots and daikon radish, and cilantro. Personally, I'd also stick in a fat stick of cucumber for its fresh crunch. This recipe works fine in crisp French bread, but if you can find a real banh mi-style rice flour baguette, all the better.
The Vietnamese sandwich is to Seattle what the dirty water hot dog is to New York; or the street taco is to Los Angeles. It's a quick cheap meal, but often a crapshoot on quality depending on where you go. You won't have to worry at Seattle Roll Bakery where you'll find some of the best bánh mì in the city.
Cali Baguette Express is more sub shop than typical bahn mi joint, offering 16 banh mi options—everything from Cajun shrimp to turkey pesto, rotisserie chicken, and even tuna. The usual suspects, like pork loaf with pate, are also available, but I always go for the BBQ pork banh mi ($3). And yes, just $3.