The term banh mi was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last month. The French-influenced, Vietnamese sub is an inexpensive and addictive favourite the world over.
Trung Nguyen in Chinatown’s Far East Shopping Centre has a loyal following because of its unusual sub fillings and ridiculously friendly owners. Ever so chipper, they tend to remember your order after a few visits.
The owners told me that next time, I could phone my order in so it would be ready when I got there. But more than that, they said I could call them once I pulled up in my car and they would RUN MY SUB OUT TO ME. And oh, don’t forget to tell them if I had a $20 bill so they could remember to bring me my change too. Seriously. I don’t know any eatery that’s offered that before.
The assorted or “special” ($4.50) is my benchmark at any bánh mì shop. It’s a common order in Vancouver and Toronto but I find that most people in Calgary prefer satay beef or satay chicken subs.
The assorted is filled with what you could politely call “cold cuts,” or not so politely “mystery meat.” Generally, it includes pâté, sliced pork loaf and Vietnamese sausage. The salty soft meats contrast well with crunchy julienned pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers, cilantro and jalapeno.
Trung Nguyen passes the test on the assorted, but what’s fun are its more unusual bánh mì fillings, like clubhouse or buffalo chicken. The owner (whose name I wish I got) swore it’s “just like buffalo wings!”
We tried the curry chicken sub ($6) which had big pieces of chicken breast in a slightly sweet curry sauce. It worked nicely against the cool cucumber and jalapeno pieces.
As I stood there staring at the bubble tea menu, the owner suggested a mango lychee ($4) with tapioca pearls one that a customer had made up the day before. It was super refreshing.
(Yes, that’s my thumb in the corner of the Far East photo. I am an idiot.)
Trung Nguyen, 132-3rd Ave. SE, (403) 266-0728. Open weekdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Room for strollers: Yes
High chairs: No
Ambiance: Three high tops, fast takeout