I didn't pay much mind to the banh mi craze that swept (is it still sweeping?) Manhattan, but after a recent run-in with a sandwich from Baoguette (owned and operated by husband/wife team Michael Huynh and Thao Nguyen), I instantly became a banh mi convert. A culinary triumph, banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich served on a fresh, crusty baguette typically layered with ingredients like bird chilies, pickled carrots and daikon radish, thinly sliced cucumber, fresh cilantro sprigs, steamed and seasoned pork roll, pork liver pâté, and either additional meat (think barbecue glazed pork and ham) or crispy tofu.
Baoguette's tiny Lexington Avenue location currently turns out a variety of phở noodles, summer rolls, and salads in addition to five types of banh mi- a vegetarian (Veguette), two signature (Cat Fish and American influenced Sloppy Bao), one classic (the Baoguette), and a BBQ Chicken. I chose the Veguette, made with a Kung Pao soy protein, and opted for extra spicy. Buyers beware- extra spicy denotes very hot (unbeknownst to me, I apparently had a choice between medium, mild, hot and very hot). My attempts to cut the heat with a tall glass of cold almond milk proved futile- the fire was still ablaze long after the sandwich was gone. A minor mistake that didn't make the sandwich any less delicious, and one that will definitely not be made again. I am now fully on the banh mi wagon.