My hubby offered to treat me for eats on Mother's Day. Admittedly Mother's Day meals stress me out! Boston restaurants are too crowded and special Mother's Day buffets are insanely overpriced ($40-$90 per person). So I chose the Super 88 Food Court: inexpensive and understated yet great tasting Asian food. If you haven't visited, Super 88 supermarkets offer otherwise overpriced (if bought at mainstream supermarkets) Asian food ingredients super-cheap. I stock up on seaweed wraps and rice vinegar for sushi, sometimes paying less than half the price. Their attached food court in Allston is grunge city but offers hundreds of food choices, many tasting as good as Chinatown without the traffic mayhem.
I was excited to try the trendy bánh mì, a Vietnamese-style sub that's won raves in NYC and Boston. Served on toasty bread and filled with flavorful grilled meats and crunchy vegetables, the only thing better is the price, ranging from $3-$5. Bánh mì traditionally consists of strips of crispy daikon radish, pickled carrots, cucumbers, chili peppers and cilantro. Cured pork or other rich meats and a slathering of pâté and mayonnaise add extra flavor and moisture. Yelpers raved about the bánh mì from Pho Viet's nestled in this food court, so off we went.
Pho Viet's sandwich choices include grilled beef, pork, or chicken; shredded pork; ham; or tofu. Ok, I'm a party pooper but I went with the tofu because it's challenging to make taste great, and to be consistent with my healthy eating quest. Besides, it cost less than an appetizer at $3.25 so I couldn't lose. At first glance it looked truly boring: strips of plain carrots, green bell pepper, two cucumber coins, cilantro, and a few logs of tofu. So I was surprised by the pleasant flavor and texture at first bite. The 8-inch baguette was satisfyingly crackly on the outside (Vietnamese sub bread is partly made with rice flour, which gives it this light crunch; gluten-free breads are also often made with rice flour). The light tangy mayo added sweetness and complemented the tofu, curiously of which some were fried (as revealed by the brown outer skin) and some were plain and uncooked. Overall it was filling without being heavy. I don't think it was an amazing bánh mì with authentic ingredients that would have popped the flavor but it was decent; if I lived closer I'd order it for lunch take-out.
I must mention that my hubby was sorely disappointed with his meal of Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli with desiccated rice noodles and even drier chicken that no peanut sauce could salvage. I've read great reviews on this dish from Yelpers so I'm guessing we just had a grumpy cook. To make up for his meal, I wandered around the corner to get take-out from a favorite, Kantin. Their menu is written in Chinese characters, and roasted whole chicken and ducks hang from a front display. The food reminds me of childhood Asian meals. I ordered minced pork with creamed corn and scrambled eggs over rice for $5.95 and a side of steamed whole grain chicken dumplings (how impressed was I with whole grain dough!) for $4.95. As my photo shows, the meal looks like slop but it was pure yummy comfort food. The dumplings were flavorful even without sauce and had a slightly nutty texture from the whole grains. I loved that it was completely nourishing and not the least bit greasy. My hubby and Jake adored both dishes.
For more appetizing info on bánh mì, check out: