Maybe this could be the tale of two cities. Or two heroes. One (Cambridge) where a local college cannibalizes all in its way (allegedly). The other (Boston) where good eats multiply - Great Taste - home of the excellent Po Tat and Dan Tat, and 163 Vietnamese Sandwich. First the good news: my favorite Banh Mi shop - "163 Vietnamese Sandwich" (curiously located at 66 Harrison Ave.) is getting widespread and well-deserved attention.
Last night I learned that local blogger Cooking 4 the Week (follow her on Twitter @SavoryKitchen) wrote about her experience at "my" shop. See the excellent post, here.
Here's my picture of the beautiful sandwich. I think this was the pork. This Viet Hero is rising to its rightful place on the throne of food worship. Delicious, healthy, cheap.
Here's the perfect "3 Buck Bite" ...
Well after advising Ms Savory Kitchen, and thinking about these treats, I couldn't stand it so I had one of these $3 treasures today! Shattering crisp baguette, soft in the center. Today we got beef, just a "hum of heat" (stole that perfect phrase from the Cooking 4 the Week post). The crisp fresh veggies and the umami-rich spread make this sandwich more fun than anyone should have for that little money.
Does anyone know the mystery of why so many Banh Mi shops are located in jewelry stores? Here you see baguettes, freshly delivered to the shop across the alley from Pho Hoa. (btw in that alley is the "Pot Luck" Restaurant. What are you bringing?)
Another favorite restaurant is Xinh Xinh. Recently, after an inspiring talk with Diane of White on Rice Couple, I thought I'd ask our server to point out a "typical Central Vietnam" dish. This big bad "crepe" was excellent. The omelette is clearly not just egg, perhaps rice flour is added to give it the characteristic crispy thin edge and outer layer. Folded inside was bits of pork and lots of fresh crisp mung bean sprouts. I believe she told me the fillings could vary. The herbs and salad are typical of Viet food from my limited experience. One of the things I love about it is this balance of crispy, savory, fresh and aromatic. The dipping sauce was another example of the slightly hot, slightly sweet combining that goes on in the cuisine as I know it.
I haven't had a bad dish at this restaurant and they're very encouraging and kind. I can't wait to go back and try another new dish. Any suggestions?
Sayonara Kotobukiya! Domo Arigato Gozaimasu.
And the sad news is that Kotobukiya, my go-to source for Japanese groceries, is closing up shop. We made the trip to see for ourselves, hoping against hope the rumors were untrue. I spoke with the owner who indicated that sadly, the news is true. He could no longer afford the rent in Porter Square. He's negotiating with someone in Medford Square. That would be great for all y'all out there (where is that anyway?) but what about us in the city?
Anyone have any recommendations for Japanese groceries?
Heroes of another sort
...by they way, if I had tried to run that marathon today, I'd probably just be c r a w l i n g over the finish line now. Congratulations to all the runners - you were all inspiring today! Even Captain America with that bad hammie.