My wife is a pho addict. At least once a week she gets a craving for the flavorful Vietnamese soup and its sumptuous, nourishing broth. Since Pho Vietnam on Poplar Avenue near Cleveland Street is only a couple of miles from our house it is our usual destination when she needs her fix. Her standard order is the Number One, which is pho with thinly sliced steak in it, but she also has the restaurant add mixed vegetables to the order. I usually either get the same thing or the Number 77, which is vermicelli noodles tossed with Vietnamese pork barbecue, shrimp, bean sprouts, carrots, peanuts and herbs.
I’d recently read in the Memphis Flyer that another local Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Saigon, is now offering traditional Vietnamese sandwiches, known as Bánh mì, that include Vietnamese barbecue as one of their multiple pork ingredients. I love Vietnamese food and I love barbecue, so when my wife got a hankering for pho last week I decided to make the drive to Pho Saigon, which is just a little east of Pho Vietnam on Poplar near the University of Memphis.
We used to frequent Pho Saigon back before Pho Vietnam opened. The food was always excellent but the service was usually inattentive bordering on hostile. So when we had a place open closer to our home with a staff that was also generally much friendlier we were quick to shift our loyalties. But on this trip to Pho Saigon we had a young waitress who was friendly and helpful. My wife got her standard order and there was no problem with getting the mixed vegetables added (some of the older staff members used to get furious at additions, even when extra money was readily offered).
There was a laminated place card at each table announcing the arrival of the Bánh mì on the menu and giving a breakdown of the sandwich’s ingredients. At $3.99 it is a bargain, but it isn’t huge so I’d definitely recommend augmenting your meal with an order of the excellent egg rolls. The sandwich itself was an excellent mix of the sort of fresh flavor and complimentary tastes and textures that make Vietnamese food so enticing, with jalapenos, cucumber, pickled carrots, and fresh cilantro all mingling with the several varieties of pork. The light, crunchy bread did a good job of holding the ingredients in place without overwhelming them. I added some Sriracha sauce for an added kick, but the sandwich was great without it. I’m just a shameless Sriracha fan who adds it to everything I eat at Vietnamese restaurants as well as a lot of the other foods I eat at home.