Bánh Mì at Blind Tiger Ale House, Not Traditional but Delicious
I’m not quite sure which I like better—tasty craft and imported beers or delicious
Despite my long-held belief that only Vietnamese delis make good bánh mì, I was game to try Blind Tiger’s version.
At 5 p.m. before Labor Day weekend, the place was so crowded that ordering a beer—much less finding a perch at the bar—was nearly impossible. I considered giving up and trying Bánh Mì Số 1 in Chinatown instead, but I waited it out and persevered.
After reading the description on the chalkboard—"sweet and tangy braised pork with mango-radish slaw"—I wasn’t sure what to expect. When it came out, it didn't resemble any other bánh mì I had seen before. To say Blind Tiger takes liberties with this French-inspired Vietnamese snack would be an understatement.
For one thing, there’s no baguette. Instead it's made with a round artisanal-type roll. To be fair, the menu does let you know about the braised pork, but I much prefer roast char siu pork, pork liver pâté and headcheese on my bánh mì. Same thing goes for mango radish slaw. Bánh mì should be dressed with a mixture of pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, cucumbers, and good amounts of fresh chilies and rooster sauce. Call me an unduly harsh bánh mì purist, but I know one when I see one. And, I also know delicious when I taste it.
Bottom line: Blind Tiger’s bánh mì fails as a Vietnamese sandwich, but succeeds as a braised pork sandwich. The chunks of pork have been cooked to a spoon tender consistency and the bread does a bang-up job of soaking up the gingery juices. Blind Tiger's bánh mì is an upscale pub grub treat that, at $5.50, won’t put a dent in your beer budget. For the record, I had a crisp Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a Sierra Nevada Brown Ale that, for all the world, tasted like a Newcastle.