Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Best Banh Mi in Town


Published:

Chef Tim McKee might have had the best sandwich of his life this weekend.

He sang the praises of a barbeque pork banh mi sandwich from Ha Tien Market—a small grocer in what is now branded the Little Mekong District of St. Paul’s University Avenue—via a tweet, calling it “ridiculously good.”

That's high praise from a very high source: Chef McKee is a current James Beard Outstanding Chef Semi-Finalist (PDF) and past Best Chef Midwest winner, and an obvious tastemaker who has influenced many of the best chefs and restaurants in town.

What made it so good? Well, a traditionally great banh mi sandwich relies on multiple facets: a crusty yet chewy baguette with a light, airy center, fresh herbs, pickled daikon and carrots for a bit of twang, mayonnaise and pate for richness, and in this case, red barbequed pork, salty and meaty, as the star of the show. It’s a complex sandwich that has become popular across the country, with some excellent local examples—St. Paul’s iPho and Trung Nam French Bakery usually garnering most of the foodie accolades.

The first thing one notices about the Ha Tien banh mi is heft. This is a large sandwich with impressive amounts of barbequed char siu pork, glistening red, and charred crisp. Beyond that, the sandwich resembles other quality banh mis with one distinct exception—the “juice.” Ha Tien offers its customers a wet sandwich ladled with a soy-based pork sauce, thin and flecked with bits of ground pork. The sauce adds richness and flavor and makes for a sloppy and ultimately satisfying meal. Is this the best banh mi in town? It certainly could be.

Two potential axioms we can take away from this: When top chefs who nearly never tweet adoringly mention local sandwiches, make haste! And in life, when asked if you want “the juice,” the answer is always yes.
 

banh mi sandwich
 

Ha Tien
353 University Ave W, St. Paul
651-227-7136

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Relishing Cranberries

Combine antioxidant-rich cranberries with another seasonal favorite in this Cranberry Walnut Sweet Potatoes Recipe

SCANDAL!: Why Red Wagon Wasn't on the Pizza List

How could food critic Jason DeRusha leave off Red Wagon Pizza Company?! His reasoning—and your chance to celebrate the Minneapolis restaurant turning 3

Talkin’ Turkey: Are you Ready for the Big Feast?

Forget brining and get even better results with a flavorful spice-rubbed roast turkey recipe

Grilled Chicken Gremolata Sandwich Recipe

Step up your chicken sandwich repertoire with a bit of Italian flair

Best Pizza in The Twin Cities: RANKED!

With the Slice of the Twin Cities pizza competition this weekend, check out food critic Jason DeRusha's favorite pies. (You'll need the carbs before winter hits.)

“Sioux Chef” Challenges Definition of Local Food with Indigenous Restaurants

Chef Sean Sherman is revitalizing indigenous food traditions with two upcoming restaurants, a cookbook, and a nonprofit—using only food native to Minnesota
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sample, Savor, and Play at Slice of the Twin Cities Pizza Event November 5

Enjoy pizza, beer, wine, bonfires, and games on a beautiful piece of property in the western suburbs.

Lentil Mushroom Chili with Optional Ground Beef Recipe

This twist on traditional chili can satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters from the same pot

3 Things to Eat This Week: Oct. 26–29

Win tickets to Slice of the Twin Cities by voting for your favorite TC pizza—and this week, try a hearty chili bread bowl from Nolo's, the Yum Yum Bowl at World Street Kitchen, and food critic Joy Summers' big pizza winner last year, Northern Fires
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags