There's something about Banh Mi sandwiches that puts them on the top of the food chain when it comes time to eat. Maybe it's the pickled carrots and daikon or maybe it's the chili mayo. Whatever it is, when it's all working together- it's magic. Xe May, located on St. Mark's place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, tries to break the mold from the traditional Banh Mi and bring a little pizzazz to an otherwise overdone, yet tasty, menu item. Unfortunately, Xe May ends up missing the mark.
You'll probably walk by the store several times before you actually see it. The spot is tiny, mainly for take out, though it does have a seating area that can probably fit no more than 10 people. There's 7 choices of Banh Mi sandwiches to choose from, including the Banh Mi tacos we were very interested in. So, we gave it a shot. We ordered the Fresh Basil Soda Limeade, Super Cub Classic, The "Hog", Lemongrass chicken taco and the beefsteak taco. The Super Cub Classic is pretty much a classic Banh Mi with the pork, pate and headchease while The "Hog" is grilled pork with fried shallots. While the other five all seemed interesting and all offered something different from the normal Banh Mi, like the DUC (meatball, provolone and tomato sauce) or the Lam'bretta (coconut curry lamb), we figured that we'd get something a bit more traditional to test out the quality of their cooking. After all, if you can't the basics right, then usually there's not much hope for the rest of the menu. Sadly, the basics here just weren't impressive.
Money has never been tighter and we are always looking for new ways to pinch pennies and still eat great. If you have yet to experience the mouthwatering taste of a banh mi (aka Vietnamese sandwich), you are missing out on one great experience. Not only is the banh mi an excellent twist on the old sub sandwich, it won’t break the bank. Sandwiches range from $2.00-$4.50.
The bread of a banh mi is as important as the filling. Little Vietnam Café always delivers with it's crusty baguettes, full of flavor. Sandwiches are offered with chicken, pork or tofu. Each banh mi is filled with pickled vegetables and every bite leaves your mouth burning from the kick. All sandwiches cost $4.50. Want to pick up something besides a tasty sandwich? Try their vermicelli or Vegetarian Pho. 309 6th Avenue (at Clement St), San Francisco, CA 94118, (415) 876-0283.
Dinner a deux doesn’t always need to be a fireworks-inducing gastronomic fête served up by the likes of José Andrés or Michel Richard. Save the excess (and the green) for your anniversary, and keep the first date just about you and the person you're with.
Keep it simple. The food should be good, but its cost and flair need not outshine your hot date (although, it helps from time to time). Book a reservation at a comfortable, slightly intimate spot and take advantage of the lighting - or lack thereof. And, oh yes, you may also want to make sure your date can sip something other than PBR.