Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich + Panini Machine = Banhmi-ni

January 21st, 2009 by Dylan
Banhmi-ni

At least once a month, J & I will take her mom down to Little Saigon to go play. Our routine is usually to either eat:

Pork Lemongrass Soup Noodles at Bun Bo Hue So 1 (bun bo hue)
Rice flour crepes stuffed with ground pork at Tay Ho (banh cuon)
Grilled cured-pork spring rolls at Brodard (nem nuong)
Grilled dill & turmeric fish at Hanoi Restaurant (cha ca)
Rice vermicelli soup with tomato & crab at Vien Dong (bun rieu)

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Even when we’re full to the brim from the food of Little Saigon, there’s always one last stop: vietnamese sandwiches at Banh Mi Che Cali (Garden Grove location by the 22 freeway). The sandwich is decent, as I prefer it much over the ubiquitous Lee Sandwiches, but they do offer the 3 for $5 deal which even makes old frugal, asian people do a double-take and say, “Damn, that’s cheap. how do you live?!”

For those new to the Vietnamese sandwich “banh mi”, it’s a mix of French and Vietnamese. During the French colonization in Vietnam, they brought the bread and pate. The Vietnamese completed the equation with their selection of meats, pickled vegetables and chili. And its a great snacky snack.

Banh Mi Che Cali is an interesting place. J cannot stand going here, so her mom & I do the work. But you know what, if you have the patience, it’s actually fun to watch. At least for me. It’s kind of like being in a DMV or a post office that dispenses Vietnamese food. The customers AND employees are sometimes irate and within a few seconds away from giving you a fist or elbow stamp. So you have to have patience here. The customers, will sometimes try and cut in the front, carefully watching the workers wrap up the sandwiches like hawks, making sure that they don’t mess up an order or give it to the wrong person. 12 types of sandwiches, you’re bound to get the same order as someone else. One time I was in line with J’s mom and this lady started to nudge in like she was invisible, and I just looked at her. But she turned her head and gave me an “I’m old, hungry and not moving” look. BMCC can resolve all of this by creating something called LINES or offer service numbers. It usually takes about 15 minutes to make a transaction here, but when you get out with the goods, you’re happy.

Back at home, I was about to eat my 3-for-$5 sandwich, and to tell you the truth, I immediately became uninterested in it. It looked so boring. Bread. Meat. Cilantro. Zzzz. Boring because I’ve been eating it for so long.

And then I thought about J’s panini machine.

Hmm… I wonder.

I dressed up my sandwich with the usual pickled carrots/daikon, cilantro and jalapeno. Argh. Where’s the Maggi sauce? They really skimp on the Maggi dosage so you’re better off adding it yourself. As the self-appointed curator of the Maggi Museum in Los Angeles, I happily went to my cabinet and picked out my standard asian Maggi and doused it. *Sigh* The aroma.

I plugged in J’s Krups panini machine and threw the sandwich in. Sorry buddy, time to get a tan. Is the panini machine not a monumental step in the culinary world and cure for those with mageirocophobia? The fine-engineered rivets that sink into the bread with a very faint sizzle. The ergonomic handle that allows you to either gently toast the bread or pulverize the sandwich to an unrecognizable pulp. The sweet timer that reminds you that bread can also cause severe house fires. I decided to smash the crap out of it b/c I wanted it thin. And right away, my maggi sauce and liver pate squeezed out of the sandwich and began to caramelize, creating an interesting smell. I held that handle down for a good 1 minute then let Mr. Krups do the rest of the work. After about 3.5 minutes, I had a new product that I proudly named with teary eyes… the “Banhmi-ni”.

Banhmi-ni

How did it taste? Quite good. It was all about the warm contents and the texture of the bread. As I bit in, I felt the warm headcheese, pork and pate coat my teeth. The maggi, daikon/carrots and cilantro were also warm which was bleh. Next time around, I’ll add the veggies and jalapenos AFTER I’ve completed the “Banhmi-ni”. If you’re tired of Lee Sandwiches or any other joint, take it to the next level with a simple panini machine and experience the “Banhmi-ni” for absolutely no extra charge! Plus, you can buy a lifetime supply of sandwiches and pop them in the freezer, and resurrect them with the genius panini machine. You won’t be cut off by old ladies or receive an elbow to the ribs any longer.

Thanks for reading. I also recommend the $3 ‘hu tieu‘ noodles available for take-out. Good price!

Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery
13838 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
(714) 534-6987

Happy Halloween, I mean, Happy Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2008 by Dylan

Right after writing about the bacon narcotic, I got a lot of emails/links regarding bacon. Just too many to post. But this one just had to be posted. It is terrifying to look at, yet I know someone is drooling over his keyboard right now, searching for the recipe on Google.

What the HELL is this thing? We’ve all seen the turducken, but this is simply ridiculous. This looks like a freshly skinned zebra in the Safari. I’m going to have nightmares for as long as I live.

Anyway, drink lots of gravy and enjoy the gift of cholesterol! Thanks to Jwong for the pic.

Bacon. The Culinary World’s Most Lethal Narcotic.

November 14th, 2008 by Dylan

If you think about it, if there’s one ingredient/food that really widens your eyes upon hearing the word, it has to be bacon (unless you’re a vegetarian). You’re at a restaurant and the waiter is going through his specials for the evening.

“Macaroni & cheese. Creamed corn soup. Baked potato skins.”

Zzzzz. Boring. But what if you added the B-word to these all.

“Macaroni & cheese with bacon. Creamed corn soup with bacon. Baked potato skins with bacon.”

Now things are interesting. I’ve come to the conclusion that bacon is a drug, you just don’t know it. It’ll be raising the eyebrows of every DEA agent very soon. Look at how this narcotic has spread through the nation, onto our plates.

Google’s Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger (photo from Geeksaresexy.com)
We all know that Google spends a ton of money on fattening up their employees with starch, carbs and fat so they’ll forget how much they are actually getting paid. They’ve taken the cheeseburger to another level by sandwiching in between Krispy Kreme donuts and adding the Special B in. It pains me to even look at this image – my cholesterol just jumped up 200 pts without even trying it. A minor league team in Sauget, Illinois has also made a pact to entertain their fans with action, entertainment and a free ambulance ride to the hospital with their 1,000+ calorie burger which is sold at $4.50. Is $4.50 worth a $45,000 bypass surgery?

Nickel Diner in Los Angeles’s Maple-Bacon Doughnuts
*Clenching chest. This pastry is highly reviewed by the Yelp army and it actually sounds good – if you’re stoned. Try it here.

Voodoo Doughnut’s Version of the Bacon Doughnut
Maybe my fellow foodblogger in Portland, Guilty Carnivore, can shed some light on what this does to the arteries. Check out Voodoo Doughnut’s site.

David Lebovitz’s Bacon Ice Cream
Ok now, I would actually try this. This would taste so good on nicely toasted brioche. Send me a gallon David! Visit David’s site for the recipe.

Respect the Bacon Suit
How do I look? J actually thinks I’m wearing the standard tuxedo and bowtie for our wedding whenever that happens. She will have the surprise of her lifetime.

Bacon Lip Balm
The good people over at J&D’s (Justin & Dave’s) know how to kill two birds with one stone: why not remind yourself of the aroma of bacon while moisturizing your lips. Geniusly gross???


Archie McPhee’s Novelty Store
And finally, some wacky gag gifts and novelties can be found here.

Feel free to post some links to any other insane bacon-related food or product. Thanks for reading.