In Cincinnati-speak, “east meets west” might refer to the unlikely pairing of a Hyde Park princess with a Westwood working man. But in the international language of sandwiches, the phrase perfectly describes the bánh mì—or, to the hungry layman, the Vietnamese sandwich. The bánh mì is a remnant of French colonialism improved by Siamese ingenuity: everyday ingredients such as cilantro and do chua (pickled daikon and carrots) rendezvous with traditional French comfort foods like pâté and the baguette. It comes served a few different ways: with grilled meats, tofu (fried or fresh), or cold cuts, all finished with tangy do chua, cucumber, cilantro, garlic mayo, and optional pâté and jalapeños. The grilled version has tasty lemongrass-marinated beef (bò), chicken (gà), or pork (heo), and the savory tofu stands up just fine to its meaty counterparts. Note: these aren’t your school cafeteria’s cold cuts. A combo of ham and headcheese plus pâté puts the French in French Colonial.
And who do we have to thank for this glorious arrival in the local hand-held food universe? The good folks at Pho Lang Thang, the latest addition to our small but growing roster of Vietnamese restaurants. Halfway through your baguette bonanza, order a Vietnamese coffee, which arrives in its own tiny brewing contraption and takes, quoth our server, “about a hundred years” to make. It’s worth the wait: Try it over ice with sweetened condensed milk.
Pho Lang Thang
114 W. Elder St. (Findlay Market)
Tues–Sat 9–6, Sun 9–4, food after 11