Pot Luck

Banh Mi Bo Kho: Soup or Sandwich?

Banh mi means "bread" in Vietnamese and thit means "ham"; banh mi thit is a ham sandwich. So when I saw banh mi bo kho on the menu at Banh Cuon Hoa #2 on Beechnut, the subject of this week's cafe review, I figured bread + beef stew = a Vietnamese roast beef sandwich. Ever since I first learned about Vietnamese sandwiches, I have been looking for the banh mi stuffed with curry and saucy meats that I have heard are popular in Vietnam.

No such luck. The beef stew was watery, and it had a lot of carrots in it. It was more of a soup that a stew. I split the bread in half and tried to stuff it with beef and broth. It would have tasted passable if each hunk of meat hadn't had a chewy piece of gristle attached to it. I couldn't eat the sandwich. So I ordered some banh cuon -- the rice paper rolls the restaurant is named after.

You can get a New Orleans roast beef poor boy at Vietnamese-owned poor boy shops like Calliope or Jazzy Café. But is there any place that serves a hot Vietnamese roast beef sandwich with gravy? Or do Vietnamese roast beef sandwiches even exist?

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Robb Walsh
Contact: Robb Walsh