Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Best Banh Mi in Town



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

Raise a Glass with New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc Pioneer, Bill Spence

It’s hard to separate New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc these days, but we hear from a winemaker who first put them together.

Joan’s in the Park Still Has It

Approaching their four-year anniversary, Joan’s is still a culinary gem with an everyone-knows-your-name attitude

Shrimp, Avocado, and Assorted Greens Over Black Beans with Spicy Salsa Recipe

This Mexican-influenced main-dish salad is also extremely versatile: Substitute chicken, pork chops, or flank steak for the shrimp, and you have a totally transformed meal
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Add your comment:

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

Raise a Glass with New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc Pioneer, Bill Spence

It’s hard to separate New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc these days, but we hear from a winemaker who first put them together.

Joan’s in the Park Still Has It

Approaching their four-year anniversary, Joan’s is still a culinary gem with an everyone-knows-your-name attitude

Shrimp, Avocado, and Assorted Greens Over Black Beans with Spicy Salsa Recipe

This Mexican-influenced main-dish salad is also extremely versatile: Substitute chicken, pork chops, or flank steak for the shrimp, and you have a totally transformed meal

Gluten-Free Banana Nut Bread Recipe

Banana bread fans can whip up this easy gluten-free loaf that rivals the traditional versions

Indeed Brewing Co. Rolls Out New IPA

Let it Roll arrives as Let it Ride winds down, to bring you an IPA year round
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags