I needed a quick lunch stop en route to Lucky 97 for a few groceries, so decided to take the opportunity to visit Van Loc in Chinatown.
My usual banh mi haunt is Nhon Hoa 2 on 97th Street, but after two recent reviews in Vue and the Journal, I was curious to see what Van Loc had to offer, as both pieces noted that the baguettes they used were second to none.
I stopped in just after noon, and it was clear they were in the middle of their lunch rush – customers continuously filtered in for take out orders. The space was definitely larger than either Nhon Hoa or Kim Tuyet, and its predominantly white interior gleamed even brighter with the natural light provided by the bank of windows. I was happy to see there were three tables to allow for eating in, though they probably could use a good scrubbing (the disadvantage of having white furniture).
I looked at the menu briefly, but already knew I wanted my usual variety, the shredded pork banh mi ($3.50). After a brief wait, I received my sandwich in a white paper submarine bag. The sandwich I was given definitely beats their competitors in the size category. The amount of cilantro, pickled carrots and cucumber included also seemed more generous than others I’d received. As for the bread, I actually found it to be the weak link of the sandwich – it had been over-toasted to the point of being too hard, making it a little difficult to eat (and definitely messy; the requisite crumb explosions made me thankful I was eating alone).
Shredded Pork Banh Mi
As the other elements of the sandwich were good, I’d definitely be willing to give Van Loc another try, with perhaps a request to keep the toasting time down to a minimum.
10648 98 Street NW