The Sandwich: Roasted brisket banh mi
Where: Mama Rouge, 3000 K St. NW
Bread: Choice of croissant or baguette
Stuffings: Roasted brisket, pickled carrots and cucumber, cilantro, mint, hoisin sauce
Thickness: 4 inches
Pros: The plentifully piled brisket is moist and tender but doesn’t destroy the delicate structure of the croissant. And while the pickled veggies could use a bit more acidity, their crisp crunch and slight tang balance out the rich meat and flaky bun.
Cons: Using a croissant to hold the ingredients seems like a fun way to emphasize the banh mi’s French influence, but the buttery flavor doesn’t complement the sour ingredients as well as a baguette. The housemade sriracha sauce could use more spice, and the fistful of mint leaves brings to mind hard candy, not refreshing herbs.
Sloppiness level (1 to 5): 3. The croissant doesn’t fall apart right away, but the airy texture makes it hard to contain the heavier filling. Expect to rebuild the banh mi as you eat it.
Overall score (1 to 5): 2. Sure, the brisket is nice and chewy, but this sandwich is in dire need of added heat, be it in the form of jalapeños or a spicier sauce. Since the banh mi itself is relatively simple, every element’s got to be perfect. Unfortunately, this one misses the mark.
Photo by Caroline Jones