Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich

spotlightI hesitate in reviewing  Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich, for fear that one of my favorite sandwich shops of all time will be flooded with new customers who will quickly become addicted to the greatness of banh mi and therefore delay my ability to get a piece of Vietnamese heaven. But this is a recession, and local businesses need a way to compete with the McDonalds dollar menu, a task which is almost hilariously futile. However, D.C. Sandwich provides a mixture of the delicious and the bizarre that can allows you to satisfy any-sized hunger without blowing the bank.

spotlight

Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich (Photo: News-Press)

 

I hesitate in reviewing  Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich, for fear that one of my favorite sandwich shops of all time will be flooded with new customers who will quickly become addicted to the greatness of banh mi and therefore delay my ability to get a piece of Vietnamese heaven. But this is a recession, and local businesses need a way to compete with the McDonalds dollar menu, a task which is almost hilariously futile. However, D.C. Sandwich provides a mixture of the delicious and the bizarre that can allows you to satisfy any-sized hunger without blowing the bank.

For all of you who say you know a cheaper and better place in the Eden Center, save it. I don’t have the time to search through the largest Asian shopping center in the East Coast to find the best banh mi place of them all, which is why I’m declaring D.C. Sandwich to be the best and then print a retraction if I am proven wrong. Just to be clear, I will probably never admit to being wrong and therefore will most likely never print a retraction.

Those of you who are not familiar with banh mi should know that it is a Vietnamese sandwich full of meat (or several different vegetarian options), jalapeno peppers, mayonnaise, radish, carrots and cilantro stuffed into a baguette-like loaf (a culinary leftover from the French occupation of Vietnam). Although you can order a sandwich, almost all of which are less than $4, without the peppers or cilantro, they provide an awesome kick that counteracts the blandness of the mayonnaise, so be sure to keep it. The grilled pork and combination sandwiches are classic, and although I was too cowardly to try it, the sugarcane shrimp sandwich was (apparently) pretty good.

It helps to understand that D.C. Sandwich is authentic almost to a fault. In many cases, this works perfectly. The flaky meat-filled pastry described only as “pate-chaude” is absolutely perfect for cold days, and the gigantic doughy buns filled with pork, sausage slices, chives and your choice of a chicken or quail egg, can act as a meal by themselves for the rock-bottom price of $2. The boba (bubble tea) comes in a seemingly-endless array of flavors, almost all of which are delicious, although it can get a tad watery if you don’t drink it fast enough. For those of you with a sweet tooth who are trying to eat something and then become incapacitated, the mysterious and delicious “dough balls” are a perfect sphere of fried dough, and mung-bean filling for less than $1.

However, while some of the faults may be a lack of understanding between cultures, a few issues remain. The bread, while usually delicious and baked onsite, is inconsistent in quality, ranging from perfectly crispy one time to completely doughy the next. Also, while D.C. Sandwich has improved their labeling over the years, the lack of labels or descriptions on several items means that the few non-Vietnamese speakers who go here (surely to increase in the coming weeks) will have a hard time making out what is what. But these are nothing compared to the selection of sodas in the back corner, where only the brave will dare to venture. While they have regular cokes and whatnot, the pennywort, tarragon, grass-jelly, basil and bird’s nest sodas (a soda derived from swiftlet saliva) seem unfit for human consumption, and my taste test of the pennywort soda confirmed this theory. Nevertheless, this is the place for authentic cheap Vietnamese sandwiches, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. Go there now.

Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich

3103 Graham Road

Falls Church • 703-205-9300

Hours:

Monday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*