Taste Test: The Pho Banh Mi Sandwich That You Eat Like A French Dip
Angelenos sure love food mash-ups. (We're looking at you Churro ice cream sandwiches.) So, when we heard about East Borough's take on the classic Vietnamese bánh mì that treats it like a French dip sandwich, we had to try it for ourselves.
And it's kind of perfect that this sandwich is in L.A. since we're also home to the first French dip sandwich ever made (thank you Philippe's and Cole's, whoever created it first).
This Culver City restaurant's Pho Baguette created by chef Chloe Tran is essentially a deconstructed bowl of pho, where the fillings are inside of a French bread roll, and you dip the sammie in a small bowl of pho broth. However, don't expect anything like beef balls, tripe or rare brisket. Think of a simple thick cut of slow-cooked beef brisket, accompanied by Thai basil, bean sprouts, red chili peppers, raw onions and a hoisin Sriracha aioli drizzled across it. We enjoyed the simplicity of the sandwich and the aioli added a creamy flavor that complemented the other ingredients. We could've done without the bean sprouts as it didn't add much to it except for the veggie crunch.
The French baguette they use for this dish is fluffier than the bread in Vietnamese restaurants you may find in the SGV, but works in this case because it really sops up all the "jus." And when you dip it in the broth that's topped with slices of green onions and more bean sprouts, the spicy sandwich gets a lime-heavy kick of the flavorful broth. The lime works in regular pho when you're eating it with noodles, though it's a bit too tart to soak the bread with.
It's a nearly foot-long behemoth sandwich, so we're glad they don't skimp on the portions, but at $13 a pop, you might argue that you can get 2 regular bánh mì for $5 or a bowl of pho for $6 in the SGV. However, it's still a tasty offering that's fun to eat, and if you've been waiting to try something new with a sandwich you've had a million times, this is a kicked-up version of it, and worth a try.
The pho broth you dip your baguette in (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
Eds. Note: An earlier version of this story reported in error that chef Jason Neroni created the Pho Baguette, but it was chef Chloe Tran. It has been corrected.