What: Pork belly banh mi
Where: Senate Pub, 1212 Vine St. Over-the-Rhine
Why: While we don’t condone the hostile takeover of a small country, it’s hard to argue against the cuisine that resulted from France’s colonial rule of Vietnam. The hoagie style sandwich known as banh mi has developed a devoted following of chowhounds over the past several years, with the inevitable contestable discussion of where to find the best. I’ve enjoyed a decent banh mi throughout the past six years that Le’s Cafe has occupied a corner of the Main Library (they are relocating down the street this month), but it’s only available when Mrs. Le is on duty. I like Pho Lang Thang’s vegetarian (with tofu) version, and Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro in Clifton makes a great traditional banh mi thit heo with braised pork shoulder and a schmear of chicken liver pate. My latest favorite is from the talented folks at Senate Pub: bourbon candied pork, red curry mushroom patè, grated daikon and carrots, slices of fresh jalapeno, and stems of cilantro on a bun that has the right balance of crunch and chew. Really, they had me at bourbon.