We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!
As has been discussed in this space on a number of occasions, there are three sandwiches that are worthy of the title: sandwich of Houston. Those include the torta, the po' boy (Italian style rather than New Orleans) and the bánh mì. The latter has become so commonplace that you could probably eat one from a different restaurant every week and not repeat yourself in a year.
It stands to reason then that there would be a few that make this list — maybe more than a few eventually — including the Chopped Ribeye at Roostar and the Barbecue Pork at Cali. The former of those two is probably in my top five sandwiches period.
So, when I popped into the brand new location of Les Ba'get (1717 West 34th, Suite 800) in Oak Forest — they just relocated from the Montrose and were still in their soft open when I went by — I figured there would be some good sandwiches on the menu, but even I was a bit surprised by this one.
The Hoisin Butter Chicken "Baguette" — how they refer to their bánh mì — instantly caught my attention. First, butter chicken, yum. Recipes for the decadent-sounding dish vary depending on origin. In Indian cooking, it's a rich, hearty curry from Northern India. But, the Vietnamese version of butter chicken is quite different. It's normally a chicken wing, marinated in fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and lemongrass, breaded and fried, and finally coated in butter and garlic.
The combo of that garlic-butter chicken with the sweet, thick hoisin was too much for me to ignore even with other equally interesting offerings on the sandwich menu.
The menu says all sandwiches come with duck paté, truffle aioli and scallion to go with the traditional cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, jalapeño and cilantro. I should say that I am not a fan of liver, but I honestly did not notice an overwhelming flavor of it on the sandwich, nor did I pull the whole thing apart digging for it, so I can't even verify it was there. Anyway, I was too busy eating because it tasted so good.
The bread is a classic French baguette traditionally served with bánh mì and baked in-house. It was fabulous — light and airy with a nice crunch. I was particularly fond of the non-meat ingredients. While I eschewed the pepper (raw jalapeño and I aren't super close), there was a seemingly perfect amount of everything else, leaning heavily on the pickled elements and lighter on the cilantro. For my money, the best bánh mì favor that exact balance.
But, it was that damn chicken coated in sweet hoisin that made my eyes roll into my head on my first bite. The counter person said it was "on the sweet side," assuming not everyone likes meat candy. Sure, it definitely had the telltale note of sugar that comes with hoisin, but it wasn't cloying or overpowering. And combined with the garlic-butter sauce on the breaded chicken, it was damn near perfect. I can see why it makes a popular wing recipe.
I typically eat only half of the sandwiches I order, saving the other half for later or, more often, for my always-hungry niece. But, this whole sandwich didn't make it more than ten minutes from hitting the table to hitting my stomach. It was exceptional and exactly what I was hoping for.
The Hoisin Butter Chicken Baguette at Les Ba'get was the ideal combination of comfort food and elevated flavors wrapped in delicate French bread. And who doesn't love them some meat candy?
If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.
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