Argyle Street is the city's destination for a proper Vietnamese feast.
But there’s a new, unexpected epicenter for banh mi: Lakeview. With three sources within a five-block stretch, the area surrounding the intersection of Belmont and Broadway is the undisputed capital of the Vietnamese sandwich.
Nhu Lan Saigon Subs, a new spin-off of the longstanding Lawrence Avenue favorite, offers the original’s 18-deep banh mi menu. Standouts include a breakfast sandwich with pâté, ham and scrambled eggs ($5), and a deeply spiced beef-stew version ($6) that is a departure from the form. Dip the accompanying baguette into the broth, top it with meat, and season each bite with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
For dessert, taste xue hua bing, a remnant of the space’s previous occupant, Cloud 9. The fluffy Taiwanese snow ice comes in mango, strawberry, vanilla and green tea versions.
Around the corner is Banh Mi & Co., a three-month-old sandwich shop by the owners of Bun Mi Express, located four blocks north. The menus of the two are largely the same, with nine different fillings available, including sardines in tomato sauce, and shredded curry-powder-laced chicken.