I’m jumping ahead on posting this because because I’m getting a new phone this week (The Droid 2) and my notes on the tasting are in my old, crappy, frustrating, at-my-goddamn-wits-end-slow Blackberry. Just to put it in perspective about how excited I am to get my new phone (probably more excited to throw away this old phone); I may have a date the night this comes out, but I’m wondering if I am going to both go on the date, and make the midnight launch of the phone at the 34th Street Verizon Wireless.
Seriously. I hate this fucking phone.
The other reason I am jumping ahead is because I am excited to see a place as recently upgraded Saigon In & Out unabashedly using the Thrasher Font. Not as bad as Comic Sans or Chicago, but worse than Papyrus. Thrasher Font. Kick ass!
My first Vietnamese coffee:
Now I need to know how to make this stuff at home – dee-effin-lishiss. Sweet and strong. I didn’t know what to expect, but it exceeded expectations. I don’t know if this stuff is good for me, because I started by buying some CafÃ© Du Monde. Natalie told me that it has condensed milk in it. From the thickness/sweetness, I’d say she’s right.
What I really came here for was banh mi. What we got were sliders.
It was my choice, or course – I just wanted to try more of them. I certainly got the flavors (aside from the cilantro … where’s my cilantro on the sliders?), but I didn’t get the whole banh mi experience. The sliders were on these little Hawaiian Roll type things. I don’t know why they didn’t just slice a bahn mi in thirds and serve it that way.
Above is the Catfish Slider (of course, you can get all of these in banh mi form, by the way). The catfish had a light fry, if it wasn’t tempura, it was the closest thing to tempura you can make without it being called tempura. The sauce on the catfish was on none of the other sliders – a spicy house mayo. Tasty.
Natalie’s favorite was the Pulled Pork, but they didn’t have it when we went, so I’m going to have to go back to check that one out, because some of these were damn good. Instead of the pulled pork, we got the Pork Chop.
This was one that I thought might have been better in the Hawaiian Roll. It reminded me a little of a McRib, but only texturally. The taste was a bit smoky and only a tad BBQ-y. The next one up was the Lemongrass Chicken:
The flavors were strong on this one. The Lemongrass really shined through, I mean, it was kickin’ with Lemongrass. If I tasted lemongrass more often, and just kinda liked it, I might say it was over-lemongrassed. Neither one of those is true, so I was a fan. The chicken was juicy and just a bit charred. My favorite was the Roast Pork:
When I taught English in China, I went to six different restaurants by myself. I only went to these six by myself (unless I drove to another town alone) because they knew what I wanted. They knew what I wanted because I had gone once before with a friend who spoke the language and told me what I should get there. They remembered me, I got the same thing when I went back. The place I ordered from most often was the place I could walk to, right next to the school. They did a roast pork and snow peas over rice.
That roast pork in Nanhai is certainly the most delectable roast pork on the planet, and the roast pork from Saigon In & Out came the closest to replicating that sensation of any I’ve tried since I left China in 2002, and I’ve tried a lot of roast pork since then. The second closest was the Roast Pork at An Choi (which I wholeheartedly recommend, even though Tuan won’t respond to my e-mails asking him where he gets his Baguettes).
I was pressed to describe the ingredients on the Traditional Banh Mi, and I couldn’t. What is actually on a traditional Banh Mi?
The classic version bÃ¡nh mÃ¬ thá»‹t nguoi, sometimes known as bÃ¡nh mÃ¬ Ä‘áº·c biá»‡t or “special combo”, is made with various Vietnamese cold cuts such as sliced pork, chicken, or turkey roll, and head cheese, along with the liver pÃ¢tÃ© and salad ingredients.
When I was describing the ingredients, I floundered on the white spongy-looking stuff. I am going to guess that was the turkey loaf and the pinkish fat stuff was the head cheese. Of the sliders, this one was the most forgettable. Perhaps it was the one crying the loudest for the curiously missing cilantro? For the flaky crust and chewy insides of the baguette? Who knows. I’ll never find out.
If I come back, it will be to try the Pulled Pork or get a Roast Pork Banh Mi. That thing was legit. It’s on my to-do list … on my new phone.
Saigon In & Out
29 Catherine St
New York, NY 10002