It was only about a week after a very reliable source (D.R.) recommended I go experience the city’s most traditional Bahn Mi sandwich that I was face to face with its small storefront up on Chicago’s North side. All the ladies behind the counter insist that Nhu Lan (2612 W. Lawrence Ave.) prides itself in baking first and sandwich craft second. After experiencing their killer food, I’d say their damn good at both.
I ordered the most traditional Bahn Mi they offered featuring your ham, pate, pork roll, and headcheese of course…yup. You just have to trust me on this one. Nothing in the previous list tastes how you’re imagining it; all of the flavors and textures blend together with the julienne carrots, daikon radish, cucumber, cilantro and special mayo. It is one of the ultimate sandwich combination of ingredients that deliver so many different sensations.
As I was ordering my sandwich a fresh batch of bread was rolled out into the front from the bakery. The delicious smell of the still piping hot baguettes instantly filled the room. Everyone waiting in line looked at each other with a smile – this really happened. We were all going to get super fresh bread on this fine afternoon.
After ordering my sandwich was ready within minutes. I picked out a soda from the self serve fridge and passed on the numerous different pre-made side items they have as well as a few sweet baked goods. I was here for the sandwich and that alone. I paid. How much? You ready…the sandwich was $3.75, soda $.89. Call it a day.
Overall, you absolutely cannot beat Nhu Lan’s version of this classic when you take the price into consideration. Every ingredient is extremely fresh and the proportions of each are spot on. The cilantro isn’t overpowering, the daikon is cut thin enough, the mayo is spread evenly without any glopping and the bread…well, the bread is the star of the show.
A delicious crispy crunch on the outside and warm and chewy inside. So light and airy but the outer crust holds up just perfectly to this overstuffed creation. This is a complete experience that will not cost you much, nor make you feel icky the rest of the afternoon. They have about twenty different options displayed on their vivid bad ass video menus so you can dine often and not get bored. Do.
I’m hungry., Let’s eat!