In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
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.
The banh mi is one of the original culinary fusions: French bread, Vietnamese fillings. Dong Phuong supplies many local restaurants with their French bread, which is considered some of the best around. (New Orleans-style French bread is lighter and fluffier than a traditional baguette, more like a dinner roll with a crispy outer crust.) They serve a full menu of Vietnamese food in the restaurant, but the real action is in the small bakery next door, which offers traditional pastries and sandwiches. Don't be surprised if you are the only person speaking English when you walk in.
You can choose from nearly 20 varieties of meats for your sandwich, which range in price from $1.95 to a steep $3.95. I went for the rotisserie chicken ($2.85). The aforementioned light-yet-somehow-still-chewy bread is merely the showcase for a marriage of creamy (thick homemade aioli), salty (thinly sliced roasted meat) and crunchy (pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapenos, and a juicy spear of cucumber) that makes every bite of the sandwich feel complete. Like New Orleans itself, the banh mi combines the flavors of many parts of the world into something greater than the some of its parts. This is a sandwich that's worth the trip.