The bootlicking rice fiend in me finally submitted, fallen onto my knees in worship and rolling on the floor in pure nirvana, to the lip-smacking, bread crumb picking goodness of a sandwich as the sole star of a complete meal. The Husband and I had this particular sandwich thrice in a single day. Three sandwiches, three complete meals, two Filipinos and NO RICE?!? What blasphemy! An abomination! “Hindi talaga kumpleto ang kainan kapag walang kanin (A meal is not a complete meal without rice)” or “Hindi ko kaya na mabuhay na walang kanin (I cannot live without rice)”, most Filipinos would murmur in obedience and devotion to the beloved daily grain.
But hear me out first, as I tell you why this sandwich, which actually replaced and can replace rice, is the best in the world…
It is sold at a place called “Banh Mi #1”.
Any place who has the audacity to put the words, or rather number and symbol “Number One / #1” in their restaurant name must believe in their product is damn good. And it is. It transforms impatient, I want everything now, now, now in a snap or push button or swipe people into calm, patient customers willing to wait 15-30-45 minutes for their sandwich / sandwiches…even during off peak hours.
According to a fellow banh mi pilgrim, who chatted us while waiting in line, the place used to be Banh Mi place #2 until their stiff competitor (apparently a big name chain) completely closed shop due to renovations. So the competitor’s customers were forced to get their banh mi stash at Banh Mi #1 and made them realize that they do live up to the “#1” name and have been loyal customers ever since.
It a healthy meal with Go-Grow-Glow foods
Let’s do some healthy sandwich math here:
Baguette (Go food) + Meat (Grow food) + Pickled veg, fresh veg and herbs (Glow food)
The healthiest meal eveeeerrrrrrrrrr!
It has the perfect ratio of crunch and chew.
These guys do not commit the mortal sandwich sin of the soggy sandwich. Who enjoys a soggy sandwich anyway? Well, definitely not me.
Their baguettes, which are specially made for the sandwich shop, has a hard shell firm enough to withstand the moisture from slathers of butter, mayo, pate and other fillings’ sauces to stay crunchy, yet the core maintains a pillowy soft, melt-in-your-mouth chewiness. And compared to other banh mi places, theirs is the perfect size. This baguette does not overwhelm the amount of fillings, but rather complement it.
You can squish the sandwich and it will not spring back from the dense-ness of the bready mass, but respond to the force of your touch, melding the bread and fillings together into a perfect bite with equal amount of crunch: from the baguette crust, crispy carrot and radish pickles, fresh cucumber slices and cilantro and chew: from the mayo and butter slathered baguette core and the tender cuts of meats (Our favorites are the special with various Vietnamese charcuterie – Thanks to the French for the culinary influence – roast pork and sautéed roast pork. We don’t even bother with the other filling choices!).
It does not need any additional condiments.
I made the mistake of adding a dollop of Hellmann’s mayo to the sandwich. T’was the biggest mistake ever made in sandwich history! The sandwich is perfect and does not need flavor helpers. Period. Stop.
Okay, I will take a U-turn. ONE, and only ONE, condiment is acceptable. You can add butter, (No margarine or any other its-not-butter-but-tastes-somewhat-like-it-plus-its “healthier” butters por favor!), just because you can never have too much butter on bread.
It has a perfect balance of all flavors: sweet + tangy + savory + creamy + hot + bitter.
I have to have dessert if the meal overruns my taste buds with one flavor, usually salty. But with this sandwich, I don’t find myself desperate to wash over a one-note flavor from my tongue with dessert. Every bite is a rainbow of flavors: sweet and tangy from the pickles, savory from the meat/s, creamy from the buttery baguette, mayo, butter (and pate if you order the special combi), hot from the green peppers and a hint of bitter from the herbs.
Okay, I hope that you’d all be packing your bags, buying your round-trip ticket to Texas, booking a rental car to drive to Banh Mi #1. But before you do all this, here are some more tips to make the best sandwich in the world experience even best-er (better than best):
- Take time to pick which sandwich fillings you want. For one, the names used to be in Vietnamese with no English translations. Unless you have the Babel fish lodged into your brain, you would need to point to the most appealing looking fillings displayed on the stainless steel containers. Now they have English translations AND pictures adjacent to the Vietnamese filling names, so sandwich filling selection is a tad bit easier. Second, they have up to 20 different fillings. You could be overwhelmed, but I urged you to order the combination or the roast pork and you’d be fine.
- Before just ordering ONE sandwich, keep in mind that you can actually order FIVE and get ONE FREE sandwich for $17.25 (price as of Dec 2013). I’m sure that having one sandwich is not enough. So better order a couple more, unless you do plan to wait in line for another 30-45 minutes for another sandwich.
- I implore you, or rather command you, to employ the Mr. Trong process when taking home those banh mi’s: ask for your pickles and herbs to be separated (they will ask you anyway) and when you’re ready to eat, re-heat the sandwiches in the oven (or oven toaster) and NOT the microwave. Or don’t even attempt to commit Banh Mi crime by eating them out of the fridge.
ARGH. Now I am hankering for another round of the best sandwich of the world. Hoping that The Husband and I would go on a super sandwich run soon.
Banh Mi #1
Inside the Cali Saigon Mall food court
3212 N Jupiter Rd, Garland, TX 75044
Operating hours to be updated soon
But as per a new sign, they’re closed on Wednesdays, 3PM onwards or when sold out