Friday, March 25, 2011

Now that's a sandwich!

Needing a quick bite after driving home to Halifax from Montreal, we stopped in to Indochine Banh Mi, a small restaurant located in an apartment complex on South Park St., to grab some sandwiches. More the size of a take away joint with one sole table and stools along a window counter, their menu is small and simple, offering a selection of meat and vegetarian Vietnamese sammies (banh mi), pho (noodle soup), bun (rice noodle bowls), and bubble tea.

At first glance, I was a little surprised at the cost of the bubble tea ($4.50) since it is normally made with a fruit powder that is mixed with iced black or green tea and, if you want, milk. But since the smoothies and bubble tea were 50%  off with a sandwich purchase, we went for it. Much to our surprise, the counter attendant pulled out tubs of frozen fruit and real fruit purees. Ah, that explains the price! I ordered a mango bubble tea with tapioca pearls while Brent had a smoothie of kiwi, mango, strawberry and peach. While these smoothies were nothing like the bubble tea I was used to (although I am not quite sure if I was served a mango smoothie by accident or if their bubble tea is blended like a smoothie...oh wait, the website tells me they are bubble tea smoothies! Mystery solved.), they were super delish not to mention extremely healthy. Even at full price, they'd be worth every penny. Makes you wonder about the smoothies at other places who have to make the claim "made with real fruit". Well, what else would a fruit smoothie be made with? Oh, by the way, that 'plastic' cup is 100% compostable!

For our banh mi, I ordered the lemongrass chicken while Brent had the sate pork. Served on fresh French baguette with citrus mayo, all sandwiches had the additional options of pickled carrots and/or daikon, cucumber, fresh cilantro, and chilies. We obviously opted for all of the above and were glad we did. These sandwiches were remarkable. If 'fresh' had a taste, this would be it!  The chicken was cooked perfectly (a little surprising since it was pre-cooked yet not dry in the least) with a subtle hint of lemongrass, allowing it to pair well with the tang of the pickled veg, the heat of the red chilies, and that refreshing cilantro taste. Brent's sate pork may actually have been more delicious as the tender pork had just the right amount of sweet peanuty taste characteristic of sate without overwhelming the other flavours. Plus, everything from the baguette to the cilantro was noticeably fresh. But be warned, these sandwiches are huge, think 8 inches. I wasn't even able to finish mine. As an aside, I recently read a review on The Coast site in which an individual said they wouldn't go to Indochine regularly because, in their opinion, these sammies are $1 to $1.50 more expensive than their European counterparts. To clarify, the banh mi at Indochine range from $5.95 to $6.95. First, this is Canada and not even a big city in Canada where there are endless possibilities for ethnic foods but the small city of Halifax where we are lucky that banh mi is even an option. Second, how much is a similar sized sub at other fast food places? And how fresh exactly does that taste?  I just think it's ridiculous that a loonie would keep someone from visiting a great little restaurant like this where they are focused on offering healthy unprocessed 'fast' food, sourcing local products, and being as environmentally friendly as they can. I'm pretty sure that's worth a loonie alone!

Check out Indochine Banh Mi and decide for yourself. I doubt you'll regret it!


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