Bahn Mi at Nha Trang

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I approached the shaded patio located on the backside of a building that faced Colonial Drive.  Wisp of blue gray smoke curled above several lounging men who smoked cigarettes.  I asked if they knew where Nha Trang was located.  They shook their heads and indicated they did not speak English.  I walked into what appeared to be a coffee bar.  A man approached and I asked him the same question.  He pointed towards his right, told me to cross a small courtyard, and look for the sandwich shop.  I thanked him and made my way towards the shop.

Two large windows stood on either side of a simple door with metal bars.  Writing on the windows advertised gio thu and cha lua.  Everything except the signing declaring the place open was in Vietnamese.  I pushed the door open and walked into a one room shop.  The walls were a pale cream.  A small table with two folding chairs sat to the left.  Newspapers cluttered the table.  A refrigerator case full of various drinks and other items was on the right.  A disco ball hung above a small desk.  I walked to the back and was greeted by a very friendly woman.  She spoke limited English and politely pointed me to a sign taped to the counter.

Listed on the sign were the sandwiches she made with a brief description of their contents.  All of the sandwiches costs $3.00.  I had no idea what to order and decided to go with the bánh mì đặc biệt.  I watched her as she assembled the sandwich.  She carefully placed various cold cuts in crusty bread.  She toasted the sandwich and then topped it with a variety of fresh vegetables.  When she was finished she wrapped it in a sheet of wax paper and secured it with a rubber band.  She smiled as she handed it to me, and I thanked her. While I was outside taking a picture she came outside and asked me to take a picture of her in the doorway.  She was very proud of her little shop, and she beamed as I snapped her photo. I love meeting owners like this as I try new restaurants!

When I got to a place where I could eat I removed the rubber band and peeled back the paper.  Before taking a bite I sifted through the sandwich to see what I was about to eat.  Inside was a variety meats including sliced ham (chu lua), roast pork (cha siu), sliced fish cake, daikon, and cilantro.  A creamy garlic fish sauce blanketed the interior of each side of the roll.

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I took a bite. Wow.  The bread was crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  The different meats blended together well.  The garlic fish sauce sat in the background giving just a hint of fish flavor.  The cilantro added a nice bite while the daikon provided a good crunch.  The sandwich had both complex flavors and textures.  It was amazing, and I was floored it only costs $3.00.  I sat there eating and wished I had purchased a second for the trip back up I-75.   Finding Nha Trang was not easy, but it was well worth the effort!

Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating:
Atmosphere: C
Taste: A
Presentation: B
Service: A
Cleanliness: A
Price: $

Banh Mi Nha Trang on Urbanspoon

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