Thursday, February 7, 2013

Banh Mi House: Downtown Crossing, Boston

I love Downtown Crossing. It's a jungle. You're smack in the middle of one of Boston's most historic neighborhoods, if not the most historic neighborhood. And yet, there's a drug dealer on every corner, terrified tourists, and your local millionaire all in the mix. I look forward to errands that I have to run here, because it has a great flavor and literally great flavors in terms of the food.
Welcome to Banh Mi House
Today, I had plans to go by my beloved Falafel King, but at the last moment, I looked to my left of the bizarre little food court where the King is located, and saw the little stall called Banh Mi House. Banh Mi House very recently received a favorable shout out in the Boston Phoenix, and I'm always psyched to visit another place that prepares what is one of my favorite sandwiches. Easy on the taste buds, easier on the wallet, that's the sammy for me.
Of course, it certainly helped matters that the owner of the food stand was one happy, smiling fellow. Unlike other banh mi places, where speed is the primary factor, this nice guy was excited to chat with me a moment about the pending snowstorm we're expecting tomorrow and into the weekend, where I had heard about them, and where abouts I worked. He seemed genuinely excited about his sandwiches, and I was ready to dive in.
Classic banh mi sandwich,
so delicious!
I opted for the classic banh mi, famous for having a filling of Vietnamese cold cuts, and a smear of liver. I've had some versions of the sandwich where the quality of the meats is questionable, so I rarely order it. But this one was legit! Delicious and thick, chewy salami, and a sort of pale circular, sweet (maybe chicken-based) sausage. The creamy smear of liver was minerally and buttery, but not overly fatty. Lots of meaty flavor for filling, salty and sweet, and a great balance of textures. To add to this, you have the necessary pickled daikon shredded carrot, and onion. The pickling liquid must have consisted of rice vinegar and a good dose of sugar, nice and tangy and sweet. Then there was a splash of fish sauce, a bit of mayo, a squirt of sriracha, and ample leaves of cilantro. You have the tangy, the sweet, the salty, the chewy, the heat, the creamy, and the crunchy. Oh, and the bread was better than any other breads that I've had at similar places in Chinatown. The outside was crispy, the inside pillowy and light with just enough chew and substance to hold all of the sauce and flavors. A gorgeous baguette for this type of sandwich.
Well, I will be back. And I encourage you to visit Banh Mi House, especially if you work anywhere in the vicinity of Downtown Crossing, but maybe haven't had a chance to notice the little stall while the siren call of Falafel King has you by the balls. The Banh Mi House and their cordial and friendly staff certainly make one hell of a Vietnamese sandwich.
Fresh rolls
BTW - very respectable fresh rolls as well.

Banh Mi House48 Winter St - same building/entrance as Falafel King. It's on your left.

(between Tremont St & Temple Pl) 
Boston, MA 02108

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