Hours: Breakfast, lunch, dinner: seven days
Lincoln Square banh mi shop that's a treasure for the neighborhood.
Banh mi, the miraculous French-inspired Vietnamese sub, has an assured place in the Sandwich Hall of Fame as a classic example of cross-cultural pollination. Cheap, fresh, and filling, its something that should be available on every cornerbut isnt. Nhu Lan Bakery, a Vietnamese bakery in Lincoln Square, is a pioneer, striking out relatively far from the Broadway/Argyle intersection. Its a risky business plan, but a treasure for the neighborhood (if only more Pakistani joints would open away from cabbie corridors). Demi baguettes are baked fresh daily to cradle multiple fillings, typically accented by pickled julienned carrot and daikon, cucumbers, mayo, cilantro, and thinly sliced jalapeños, and dressed with spicy-sweet nuoc cham, a potent fish sauce. Among my favorites is the special, a meat-lovers sub with a schmear of rich paté, headcheese, ham, and a fried pork sausage called cha hue. The ham banh mi is piled with jambon and a generous wipe of paté, a simpler version that highlights the textural contrast between the two. Theres also a meatball filling, sweet and messy like a sloppy joe; a lemony shredded chicken; grilled pork; and an all-vegetable variety filled with undressed breaded, fried, dry vegetable matter; the only one I cant recommend, its exactly the sort of thing that gives vegetarian diets a bad name. These sandwiches run around five bucks on average; buy five and you get one free. There are also fresh-fruit smoothies and a large selection of Vietnamese snacks for takeaway: spring rolls, yellow house-made mayo, Western pastries, and a rotating variety of sweet rice and pudding desserts in challenging flavors—corn, mung bean, sweet potato, sausage. You can take away vacuum-sealed sausage, paté, ham, and headcheese too.
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