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

My Name Is Jason and I Used to Hate Brunch

Brunch has undergone a renaissance in the Twin Cities. Food critic Jason DeRusha picks his top spots for brunch this year.

3 Things to Eat This Week: May 2-6

Where to find a Nutella-stuffed pretzel and possibly the best fried-chicken sandwich in the Twin Cities

Beyond Burgers: All-Natural Laura's Lean Beef Sizzles in South-of-the-Border Recipes

If you have lean ground beef on hand, you have many great options at your fingertips to easily whip up a meal-whether it's a busy weeknight or a more leisurely weekend.

Jimmy’s Perfect Margarita

Raise a glass to Cinco de Mayo with Jimmy Buffett’s signature Margarita, or drink variations and mix up some guacamole for a taste of paradise.

Blackberry Cobbler Recipe

Embrace spring with a sweet, tart and comforting dessert that mixes in a healthy fruit to boot

Pineapple in Every Bite Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Enjoy this twist on the classic cake with chunks of sweet, juicy pineapple maximizing the fruit-to-cake ratio in every taste

3 Drinks to Give Winter the Kiss-Off

West Seventh in St. Paul is bursting with drink options to usher in spring (which is just around the corner, right?)

Minnesota-Grown Greens Now Available Year Round

New locally and sustainably produced Revol Greens makes eating clean and green throughout the year even easier

What to Buy for the Perfect Minnesota Home Bar

From vodka, gin, bourbon, rum, and beyond: Minnesota spirit-makers recommend the best home-bar companions
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags