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What is it about Bahn Mi's that make them so addicting?

I have to admit, I was hooked with my very first bite 4 years ago. Since I work in Chinatown in Boston it takes every ounce of my being to not eat a Bahn Mi EVERYDAY for lunch. I have successfully been able to limit my addiction to about every 2.5 weeks and not a day longer.

As I sit here today, yes, today is Bahn Mi day, I find myself wondering what exactly is it about this gastronomical delight that causes my intense cravings? Is it that flaky roll, the pickled veggies, the hot pepper, the bbq beef (only kind I eat) or is it that buttery spread that set my taste buds into a tail spin so many years ago? It doesn't help that they are so darn cheap! $3.00- you can't buy anything good to eat for $3.00 anymore!

I would love to hear from others that find themselves with this same addiction (or not)...

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  1. I don't eat pork, so I also have banh mi with out the pork pate or BBQ pork. But I love love love the various non-porcine varieties. For me, I love a banh mi that has the right balance of each ingredient to make it moist and brightly seasoned---Maggi sauce gives good oomph. I especially love places that do in-house Vietnamese style mayonnaise, and have found that this makes or breaks good banh mi for me. Somehow it is a filling sandwich that feels light on the palate with bright flavors and a lot of crunch from the cilantro and vegetables. Just delightful!

    1. Banh mi have everything we love about subs, only with "exotic" tastes. They have more of an emphasis on veggies, with more interesting choices than tasteless shredded lettuce and soggy tomatoes. The pate, butter, and/or mayo make them taste very rich, but they're almost always light and refreshing sandwiches, never heavy nor greasy like the best cheesesteaks and Italian hoagies. Plus they're ridiculously cheap. I work ten minutes from Orlando's large Vietnamese neighborhood with many restaurants and banh mi shops, and I try to save them for rare treats rather than daily or weekly indulgences, but they are just so good!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

        Can you recommend any places (please)? I live in Melbourne and would love to know a good place to go when I'm out that way.

        1. re: debclark

          All the places are within a few blocks of each other along Colonial Drive, five minutes east of I-4 and downtown Orlando, with a few up Mills Avenue. Boston Bakery (on Colonial) and Ba Le (on Mills) have the most varieties of banh mi, so I'd recommend them both.

          Orlando Weekly magazine did a local taste test back in November, and the results (with contact info for those places and more) are online:

          http://orlandoweekly.com/dining/banh-...

      2. What makes them so addicting? Maybe the MSG?

        Seriously though, I love bahn mi, too, usually not the pork variety. My regular rotation includes salmon, crab salad, chicken curry, and bbq chicken.

        1. Delicious and cheap, thus making the addiction all but painless! I would be having one just about every day if I didn't have to drive about fifteen miles first.

          There's an excellent banh mi place in the same strip mall as our favorite dim sum restaurant, and one Sunday morning while we were outside waiting for our table there was a group of teenagers waiting as well. At one point one of the girls broke off from the group and went into the banh mi store, then came out devouring her little tide-me-over. I was so jealous, remembering when I could eat like that and get away with it …

          1. Frugal as I am, I'd happily pay twice what I pay for the typical bahn mi. I think it's the contrasting flavors and textures. I have the same reaction to other sandwiches if the bread is warm and crusty and the greens cold and crisp, with a creamy condiment.

            2 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              I'm with greygarious as to what makes a good sandwich in general. As for banh mi, I think its all the sugar in the mayo, pickled veggies, and the bbq sauce that makes them addicting.

              1. re: greygarious

                I can't get over how inexpensive they are, too, and some places near me have the buy 3 or 4, get one free.