Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Best Banh Mi in Town


Published:

Chef Tim McKee might have had the best sandwich of his life this weekend.

He sang the praises of a barbeque pork banh mi sandwich from Ha Tien Market—a small grocer in what is now branded the Little Mekong District of St. Paul’s University Avenue—via a tweet, calling it “ridiculously good.”

That's high praise from a very high source: Chef McKee is a current James Beard Outstanding Chef Semi-Finalist (PDF) and past Best Chef Midwest winner, and an obvious tastemaker who has influenced many of the best chefs and restaurants in town.

What made it so good? Well, a traditionally great banh mi sandwich relies on multiple facets: a crusty yet chewy baguette with a light, airy center, fresh herbs, pickled daikon and carrots for a bit of twang, mayonnaise and pate for richness, and in this case, red barbequed pork, salty and meaty, as the star of the show. It’s a complex sandwich that has become popular across the country, with some excellent local examples—St. Paul’s iPho and Trung Nam French Bakery usually garnering most of the foodie accolades.

The first thing one notices about the Ha Tien banh mi is heft. This is a large sandwich with impressive amounts of barbequed char siu pork, glistening red, and charred crisp. Beyond that, the sandwich resembles other quality banh mis with one distinct exception—the “juice.” Ha Tien offers its customers a wet sandwich ladled with a soy-based pork sauce, thin and flecked with bits of ground pork. The sauce adds richness and flavor and makes for a sloppy and ultimately satisfying meal. Is this the best banh mi in town? It certainly could be.

Two potential axioms we can take away from this: When top chefs who nearly never tweet adoringly mention local sandwiches, make haste! And in life, when asked if you want “the juice,” the answer is always yes.
 

banh mi sandwich
 

Ha Tien
353 University Ave W, St. Paul
651-227-7136

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Mini Sopes with Carne Asada, Avocado and Queso Fresco Recipe

Get ready for Cinco de Mayo—sliced avocados make for a rich and tasty topping to mini sopes filled with sautéed carne asada, black beans and queso fresco.

2016 James Beard Award Finalists Lenny Russo and Paul Berglund

Moveable Feast: MnMo editor Rachel Hutton and MPR Classical's John Birge talk about the Minnesota finalists for Best Chef Midwest category

The Not-So-New Trend of No Reservations

Is it worth waiting to dine at some of the hottest and newest spots in town?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

TC Taste answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the TC Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Recent TC Taste Posts

Mini Sopes with Carne Asada, Avocado and Queso Fresco Recipe

Get ready for Cinco de Mayo—sliced avocados make for a rich and tasty topping to mini sopes filled with sautéed carne asada, black beans and queso fresco.

2016 James Beard Award Finalists Lenny Russo and Paul Berglund

Moveable Feast: MnMo editor Rachel Hutton and MPR Classical's John Birge talk about the Minnesota finalists for Best Chef Midwest category

The Not-So-New Trend of No Reservations

Is it worth waiting to dine at some of the hottest and newest spots in town?

Three Things to Eat This Week: April 25-May 1

Food critic Joy Summers reflects on her memories of Prince, and celebrates this thing called life with her favorite dishes from Mojo Monkey Donuts, Strip Club Meat & Fish, and the Dirty Bird

The Mumm Mint Julep Recipe

Raise a glass to the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” with a twist on the classic cocktail
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags