I was first exposed to Vietnamese with Pho. Pho, for the unacquainted, is a traditional Vietnamese thinly sliced meat and rice-noodle soup dish. Immediately recognizable by its rich and hearty broth and interesting plate of accouterments, this soup has become very popular in the US over the last decade and is one of my favorite things in the world to eat (especially if I'm hung over).
Well one day, I happened to be in Eden Place (a local Vietnamese Strip Mall in Falls Church). It was after lunch time and my belly was rumbling. I was looking for a place to pull up and knock back a big bowl of the magical Vietnamese super soup, but it looked like of the Pho shops had lines wrapped out the door.
As I walked around thinking about whether or not I wanted to wait I noticed a little deli that still had a decent line, but nothing I couldn't manage. I thought maybe I could get a small sandwich and much on that while I waited for Pho. Feeling a little adventurous I walked in and asked the woman at the counter what their best sandwich was.
She told me I should try the #8 (roasted pork) and if I liked it, to come back for a #10 (lemongrass beef).
I thanked her, ordered the sandwich and in a couple of minutes this pretty normal looking sandwich came out (also called Bánh mì ). It was a hard French baguette stuffed with thinly sliced grilled pork, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, pickled carrots, cucumber and onions. It also seemed to be slathered in some kind of spiced mayonnaise. It smelled delicious so I dug in.
Wow. The flavors hit you immediately. It's really very different from any other flavor I had ever had, but somehow, because it was in a sandwich, it seemed very familiar. The meat was deliciously tender and the vegetables and cilantro added a lot of fresh tastes to balance out the thick and crusty baguette that was slathered in this mayonnaise. I woofed the entire thing down in a few minutes, immediately forgot the Pho and ordered a #10.
Want to try one? Stop by Song Que in Falls Church and see what $3.50 will get you there.