Edibles » Mouthful

A Different Slice Of Life

Check out these unusual sandwiches


May reminds me of lovely lunches I once enjoyed at a colleague's home. He was Vietnamese and became stuck in the US when Saigon fell while he was here in school. He stayed at that university for decades. For his luncheons, he'd make a tray of Banh Mi sandwiches, a glorious combination of herbs and meats on a light crusty Vietnamese baguette. Fortunately, that town had a Vietnamese bakery so the bread was perfect. Onto the bread he would slather mayonnaise drizzled with nuoc cham heavy with lime, then build the sandwich with Vietnamese cold cuts, thinly sliced cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, sprigs of cilantro, and mint. For the adventurous, he added thinly sliced chile peppers from his garden.

Here in Charlotte, there are a handful of places to get a Banh Mi sandwich. Thanh-Huong is a Vietnamese sandwich shop which offers a selection of both meat and tofu Banh Mi. All of the large sandwiches are under $3. Their most popular is the spiced pork. However, I enjoyed a fresher Banh Mi at Bên Thành, but unfortunately they do not carry the sandwich on their regular lunch menu. They told me that most Vietnamese make these sandwiches at home and the market isn't in Charlotte yet. But Banh Mi shops are springing up across the country.

Thanh-Huong, 3023 Central Avenue, 704-568-2940.

A reader e-mailed asking where he could find a döner sandwich. This wrap is of Turkish origins but has become an increasingly popular street food in Germany, a nation hosting a large number of Turkish workers. The döner was originally made from mutton but is now made from lamb. People load this pita sandwich with hot sauce, a garlicky yogurt or an herb yogurt sauce. A döner is similar to a Lebanese shawarma. Döners in Turkey and shawarmas in Lebanon are made by tightly stacking spiced lamb filets (sometimes beef or chicken) and vertically spit-roasting over an open flame. As the meat cooks, the cook slices off the meat. An authentic döner or shawarma is not made from the ground and pressed meat that is commonly found in gyro shops. A shawarma sandwich has tahini, sliced onions and tomatoes. Taco al Pastor is a similar vertical roasting of spiced pork and can be found at Taqueria La Unica.

Ghali's Deli & Grill, 10416 East Independence Boulevard, Matthews, 704-845-5566; Taqueria La Unica, 2801 Central Avenue, 704-347-5115.

For a meat-free sandwich, one of the most flavorful is the Thai "Chicken" Wrap at the Peaceful Dragon. Chef Bragg grills marinated seitan and then wraps it in a flour tortilla loaded with vegetables, rice noodles, peanuts and Thai citrus sauce.

The Peaceful Dragon, 12610 Steele Creek Road, 504-8866.

If you're one of those people who just can't get enough of the holidays, Roly Poly has a rolled sandwich for you. Their Thanksgiving Sandwich is loaded with sliced turkey breast, cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes (just kidding!) and basil mayonnaise.

Roly Poly, Brevard Court, 317 S. Church Street, 704-332-6375; 8200 Providence Road (Arboretum), 704-540-8313; 1710 Kenilworth Avenue, 704-632-3773.

Add a comment