Saigon goes Downtown

A Colonial-French French dip

The French dip and the banh mi: The prior was invented in Downtown Los Angeles, regardless of which stories you believe, written either by Cole's or Philippe's. The latter has a more fact-checkable history, mirroring that of French Indochina: a mash-up of Vietnamese fillings stuffed into its colonizer's bread.

Xoia, a new, gleaming white spot in Echo Park that blends Vietnamese cooking with L.A. traditions in their signature pho beef tacos, is now bringing these two Southland sandwich favorites together in their brisket banh mi with pho au jus and shrimp chips (pictured; $7).

It's a sandwich that spans the miles between Downtown and Rosemead surprisingly well. Dipping the crunchy baguette into the anise-perfumed broth, the bread moves toward the texture of a soft roll, giving the brisket a boost of flavor and doubling the depth of its taste to recall the roast beef of Downtown's sandwiches. The bright flavors and heat of the traditional banh mi garnishes–pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber and jalapeño–maintain their crunch, keeping this sandwich grounded in Vietnam.

With the cross-cultural taco now a near-necessity–everything from kalbi to kosher brisket to tandoori-grilled meats has been stuffed into tortillas at myriad trucks and restaurants–it's refreshing to see Xoia pick up on a new reference point from Los Angeles' food history.

Xoia, 1801 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; 213-413-3232 or xoiaeats.com