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 rfischer@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

More Seats for More Meat at Fogo de Chão

Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão expands in downtown Minneapolis

Restaurants You Can Actually Get Into on Super Bowl Weekend

Your restaurant guide for the Super Bowl: walk-in, no reservations needed, reservations available—we have you covered

Take a Dip: Classic Smooth Hummus Recipe with Variations

Enjoy a traditional hummus blend or easily change it up with peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and more

Super Bowl Guide: Food Events

Outdoor dinners, chef collaborations, charity fundraisers: all the food and fun around the Super Bowl

3 Things to Eat This Week: Jan. 24–28

Food critic Joy Summers roots for these Twin Cities eats to show off what we've got to our Super Bowl visitors

3 Hot Twin Cities Lunches

Here are the great deals and meals you can get by visiting Surly, Campus Cafe, and the Naughty Greek for lunch

Cinnamon Popcorn Crunch Recipe

Whip up this sweet and salty snack for game-day get-togethers or cozy movie nights

Tacos & Tequila After Dark

Kick off your Super Bowl celebrations with Minnesota Monthly. Dance the night away at our exclusive, first annual Tacos & Tequila After Dark event on Jan. 31 from 9 p.m. to the stroke of midnight.

Posole with Chorizo, Pepitas and Cotija Recipe

Spice up your day with comforting, hearty South-of-the-Border inspired soup
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags