Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 1, 2007 08:47 PM

Eel banh mi at Sea Salt

I tried a new sandwich on the menu at Sea Salt in Berkeley today, a banh mi sandwich made with fried eel. It was great! It was big fatty oily pieces of eel next to standard pickled banh mi condiments inside the same buttery roll they use for the lobster sandwich. It's easily my favorite sandwich there now, even better than the trout BLT, and maybe the best thing I've had there.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm curious as to how the eel was fried? Is it battered like fish & chips? Does it have a light crust (from flour perhaps)?

    1. it was sliced into big pieces about a half-inch thick and then straight pan-fried, like trout, no breading or flour.

      1. Thanks ... loved it ... I have now officially paid $12 for a banh mi.

        But to Sea Salt's credit there are quotes around the 'banh mi'.

        This is the best eel I have ever had ... ever. The only tolerable eel I've had in my life. It had the most wonderful silky texture ... the whole sandwich had great texture.

        It is on a soft excellent sub roll ... such pillowy seafood sandwich satisfaction.

        The cilantro, carrot, pickled onion and jalapeño did a nice job of balancing the eel muskiness. Paired with Deschutes Black Butte Porter … so good … so good.

        If I get this again though, I’m going to ask for extra condiments.

        The standard sides just go so well with the eel too … the minty, colorful slaw and they have perfected those potato chips. The two pieces of perfect … really perfect bread and butter pickle were great too.

        Thanks again for the heads-up. They haven’t even added it to the online menu yet (wasn’t sure what that orange spread was on the roll. They also have gumbo on the menu that isn’t on the website … and something with sea cucumber.

        Love the Bay Area when the next table complains that they have had sea cucumber every week and are getting tired of it and looking for something different.

        My favorite lazy, sunny Sunday thing to do … sit on the patio enjoying a meal at Sea Salt.

        1. What type of eel is it? E.g., unagi. Do they have fresh sea cucumber? (hope, hope)

          8 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I hope you weren't asking me about eel ... cuz until you just asked I didn't even know there were different types. I hope Hungry Hippo will be able to help you.

            As far as the sea cucumber, it was part of a dish, not on its own. I was focusing on eel and didn't even notice that until the next table started talking about it and then I just glanced at menu breifly as in ... yep, there it is ... how 'bout that ... something else was the main event in that dish and I don't remember what ... then my beer came ... so, my attention shifted to the brew.

            Usually learning there are different types of something sets me off on a crawl to compare the different varieties ... but an eel crawl ... slither ... yeah ... not prepared for something like that yet. I haven't evovled food-wise that far. Maybe that was the problem with past eel experiences ... wrong variety ... cheap eel.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Like rworange, I'm hardly expert in eel. The texture and size of the pieces were very similar to the way unagi is grilled for donburi, so I'm guessing it's unagi, but only because I have no idea what the alternative would be.

              1. re: Hungry Hippo

                Thanks, I asked because fresh eel (swimming, about an inch in diameter) is available around here part of the year and I thought Sea Salt might have tapped into some.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Had a birthday lunch there yesterday and the eel in the banh mi is Unagi. Very spicy when you hit the unseeded jalapenos (they coulda been sliced a bit thinner) but i must agree with the others, it was mighty fine.

                  Our party also shared the Oyster Po'Boy, the Grilled Calamari with Gigante Beans and Pesto, the Clam Chowder, and the Haricot Vert with Chantrelles and Maitake. Unbelievably, we also fit in a Brownie Sundae with Salty Caramel Ice Cream.
                  All the dishes were rock solid good, the Calamari was a nice generous sized portion and the squid perfectly cooked, but the standouts were the Clam Chowder (with uniformly diced potato, onion and bacon that held up in the finished soup, and the clams were a nice size) and the Haricot Vert (SO DELICIOUS IT HURTS). My sister remarked that the Chowder was so good, you don't notice that they kinda give you half a bowl.
                  Don't get me started: the Brownie Sundae was pretty perfect. Proportion of warm brownie to ice cream to whipped cream and nuts was....perfect. Pictured below in half devoured form:

                  Thanks for all the great suggestions Hounds...our visit was the first of many. Good seafood restaurants are in a class all their own.

                  1. re: crispypork

                    I absolutely love that you kept us in mind and remembered to check out what type of eel that was. Thanks so much. That picture of the brownie sundae looks so good it hurts. They seem to have a good pastry chef there right now. I loved the rhubarb tart with strawberry ice cream.

                    Yeah, that chowder is so good. I think the big bowl might make it look like less than it is. Also, though it is light, it is rich and more might kill you.

                    Don't forget they are now serving brunch.

                    Thanks again.

                    1. re: crispypork

                      Mmmm, thanks for the confirmation and a most delicious report! If I weren't so leery of traffic in the east bay these days...

                      1. re: crispypork

                        I'm genuinely addicted to this banh mi - I've easily had 6 in the past two months.

                        The chowder is good, but it doesn't hold a candle to the seafood chowder at Bar Crudo.

                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                          Thanks for reminding me and keeping the Bar Crudo clam chowder in my radar.

                2. I love Sea Salt! Everything I've had there is amazing! Next time you are there try their seared ahi, it is some of the best I've had anywhere. Also, they have an oyster happy hour that is to a great deal (I believe it is M-F 4-6 but I'm not positive). Word is they will be putting a full bar in soon, I think this will be a great addition to their phenomenal food!
                  thank you for the suggestion!