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Phil & Mel In The Morning

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It’s delicious, it’s cheap, it’s Vietnam’s answer to the hoagie. If you’re not eating banh mi (bahn-mee) sandwiches, you’re missing the boat. Or submarine. Whatever.

What exactly is a banh mi sandwich, you ask? It starts with a crispy baguette. (History Lesson: Vietnam was a French colony from 1887 to 1954.) Onto the bread goes mayonnaise, cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon radish, jalapeños, cilantro, and choice of protein.

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The protein part of a banh mi is where it gets really interesting. Pork options may include pork belly, barbecue pork, pork skin, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled pork patties, spreadable pork liver pâté (France!), pork meatballs, and something called pork floss, which is finely-shredded meat. If you prefer poultry, you can order your banh mi with grilled chicken or chicken floss. Other traditional options include sardines, head cheese, mock duck (gluten-based vegetarian product), and tofu. Occasionally, you’ll see beef on a banh mi menu.

Now that I’ve made you hungry, where should you go to begin your own banh mi obsession? You can’t miss at any of these places:

Le’s Sandwiches and Cafe – Asian Corner Mall, 4520 North Tryon Street.

Crispy Banh Mi – Two Charlotte locations: 5100 South Blvd, Ste C and 2934 Shamrock Drive.

Banh Mi Brothers230 E W.T. Harris Blvd, Suite A7.

Banh Mi & Tea Company2130 Ayrsley Town Blvd.

Thanh Huong – 3023 Central Avenue.

Be’s Noodles & Banh Mi – 11318 N Community House Road.

CO – Two Charlotte locations: 7416 Waverly Walk Avenue and Park Road Shopping Center (4201 Park Road D).

Yummi Banh Mi – Food truck in Charlotte and at 121 North Long Street in Salisbury.