3 Fleur
Average check per person $5-$15
BreakfastBreakfast SundayBreakfast MondayBreakfast TuesdayBreakfast WednesdayBreakfast ThursdayBreakfast FridayBreakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerNo Dinner SundayNo Dinner MondayNo Dinner TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Dinner ThursdayNo Dinner FridayNo Dinner Saturday

Banh Mi Sao Mai

New Orleans East: 14321 Chef Menteur Hwy. 504-254-3977. Map.
Very Casual.
Cash only.

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY

A number of Vietnamese restaurants were already selling banh mi when this little outfit began specializing in the sandwiches. Resembling poor boys, bahn mi are filled with as wide a range of ingredients as poor boys are. But very different ingredients. Instead of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayo you get lettuce, pickled carrots, cucumbers, fresh herbs, Sriracha-style hot sauce, and a few other things about which the less you know before you try your first one the better. “Bahn mi” is a general reference to the bread, but it’s understood you want a sandwich. Here, that’s really all they have, or need.

WHAT’S GOOD
The sandwiches are served toasted, filled with meatballs (tougher than the Italian kind, but good), shredded marinated pork, a peculiar kind of ham, and sometimes shrimp. I have never had less than a great sandwich from these people. You might want to eat two of them, although one is enough to make a meal. The prices are embarrassingly low, in the $3-4 range. The beverage to get is bubble tea, which is like a smoothie (sort of) but unique and delicious.

BACKSTORY

To Nguyen began selling bahn mi from her home not long before the hurricane. The operation graduated into a food truck. It hit the big time during the first Po-Boy Festival on Oak Street in 2007, when many people who had never ventured out to New Orleans East for a sandwich heard the buzz and tried a bahn mi. I was one of the judges that year and voted their Vietnamese ham (really, it’s a cured mystery meat) sandwich the best of the entire festival. And with every major poor boy maker in town there, that was saying something. By then they were in a little storefront on Chef Menteur Highway. They also turn up at all the food festivals around town.

DINING ROOM
Banh Mi Sao Mai has always been primarily a take-out place, but the utilitarian little place can give you a place to land.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Banh mi (Vietnamese poor boy sandwiches):

»Meatballs

»”Ham”

»Shredded pork

»Combinations and specials

FOR BEST RESULTS
Note that they only accept cash. The restaurant keeps traditional Vietnamese hours, opening fairly early in the morning (around seven) and going only until five in the afternoon.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
It’s about time for the range of possibilities to grow a bit. How about some seafood?

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD

Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment
  • Consistency +2
  • Service
  • Value +3
  • Attitude +1
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness +2
  • Local Color

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

 

  • Open Sunday lunch
  • Open Monday lunch
  • Open all afternoon
  • Quick, good meal
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • No reservations

 


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