Elevated street food knows no end. It was only a matter of time before the greatest sandwich of all time received the deluxe treatment. The Source was an early player offering mini bánh mì featuring country pate and pickled jalapeños. Dickson Wine Bar followed suit, slipping meatballs, cilantro and fresh chilies into a flaky baguette from the Panorama Baking Co..
The latest refined bánh mì to come to D.C. comes by the way of newly opened Ba Bay restaurant on Capitol Hill. Chef Nick Sharpe finishes par-baked bread from the Baguette Republic in his oven as each customer places their order. The bread, left slightly underdone and chewy, is then stuffed with house made pork pâté and a variety of fillings that change each day. Pictured is a pork belly cooked down almost like a confit. I spotted a meatball variation on Facebook a few days ago.
Fresh chilies, a pickled trio of carrots, daikon, and red onions, and a massive handful of cilantro finish the sandwich dressed in a tangy mayonnaise that’s definitely whipped up on site.
Ba Bay’s bánh mì is an all out belly buster, with flavors that ricochet from earthy to bright and back again. With a few bites left on my plate, I had to admit defeat. Purists used to suburban versions might cringe at the price tag but $9 is a steal for a sandwich of this size and quality. That it can be had within the District’s borders is only an added bonus.
If you’re interested, be sure to call ahead. Fillings change often and the sandwich is only offered in limited quantities. On my visit, I was lucky enough to score the very last one.
Photo by Scott Reitz