When I lived in Southern California, I would get Banh Mi every so often. Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette with various toppings. There were a couple of hole in the wall places I would go and could get a couple of big sandwiches for under $5 (total). The prices went up as the years went by, which is expected, but I still felt that I got more than my fair share of value.
Since I moved to Maryland, I have tried half-heartedly to find some places that served Banh Mi. Pho places are easy to find, and they might have one or two Banh Mi sandwiches on the menu, but I was hoping for some variety. I found about Anh-Mazing Banh Mi a few months ago and knew that I would make my way there eventually. I was out and about yesterday, and this place was on the way home from Gaithersburg, so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity.
When I arrived at the location (according to my GPS), there was a Farmer’s Market going on, and The Common Kitchen (along with some other shops and restaurants). The Common Kitchen is what I think of in my mind as a restaurant co-op. There are a lot of options, so I will be heading back there sooner rather than later, but I really wanted the Banh Mi.
I like their logo. It’s fun. I ordered a Pork Belly Banh Mi, and it came with a soup (chicken).
I started with the soup. Very basic, in terms of ingredients. Two nice sized chunks of chicken, a few pieces of vegetables, and cilantro. The flavor of the broth was really outstanding. The soup is something I could order by itself, and it would be satisfying, especially when the weather starts to get really cold. I then bit into the Pork Belly Banh Mi. My first bite took me back about 20 years, when I had my first bites of Banh Mi. The bread was perfect. Nice hard crunch to the outside, and soft on the inside without a lot of chewiness. The flavor of the pork belly is hard for me to describe, but I know I’ll get it again. There was a Vietnamese mayo pate on there. This is not going to be for everyone, but it really works with these sandwiches. There are some pickled carrots, daikon radish, sliced cucumbers and cilantro that go on the sandwich as well. They asked me if I wanted jalapeños on the side, which was an easy “yes” for me. When biting into the sandwich, the first thing is the crunch. Nice sounding, nice texture. Next comes the flavor. The richness of the pork belly hits, but then you also get the combination of flavors from the mayo pate and the vegetables.
Having eaten the soup first, I could say that I found it hard to believe that I ate the whole sandwich. But there is no way that any part of that sandwich could be left over. It was too good to put down and stop eating. The flavors of the sandwich hit me in the right spot yesterday, and as I reflect back today, I still enjoy the feeling I had while eating the sandwich.
The Common Kitchen does have other places to try, and I will. There is a Ramen Place, an Egyptian place, an Indian place, an Ice Cream place, a Bubble Waffle place, and more. So there is definitely enough to grab my attention and go back for more. Even though it was about 25 minutes to get home, the food was still at a good temperature. I might make my next meal a sit down, savor, and enjoy the ambiance type of experience. Definitely a positive part of my day yesterday.