CHICAGO (WLS) --Chicago is home to many great sandwiches, but our Hungry Hound says there's more than just Italian beef. He says a Vietnamese standard - the banh mi - is now sprouting up all over the city, including a relatively new option in Edgewater, where they bake the bread every day.
There's no denying the French influence in a Vietnamese sandwich shop like Little Saigon Baguette. The Edgewater bakery makes everything from scratch, in-house, but it all begins with the French bread.
"It's the heart and soul of the business. Our bread is probably the number one aspect of the business," said Elvis Tran, who owns the business with his family.
And so it gets put to good use, primarily in banh mi sandwiches. One side is shmeared with their homemade mayo, while the other gets a shmear of pate. Then come the meats, all made in-house of course.
"Head cheese, pork roll, ham and pate, and our aioli - mayo - and it's garnished with pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers, cilantro and jalapenos," Tran said.
And yet there is much more than simply sandwiches here. The pork pastry is remarkable, and worth a trip alone. Balls of raw pork are placed onto pastry squares; they're seasoned with hoisin sauce, shallots, onions, condensed milk and just a touch of liver pate. Each one is covered like a giant ravioli, brushed with an egg wash, then baked until the pastry becomes flaky, and the aromatic pork inside is just cooked through. It's a sweet-savory bite any time of day. Delicious.
There's also sesame doughnuts, as well as coconut jelly - served in the coconut - and homemade flan, plus strong Vietnamese iced coffee or the popular sugarcane drink. They really pride themselves on making everything in-house.
"We do all our meats - pate, ham, head cheese - all our meats are made in-house," said Tran.
There are just a handful of banh mi shops in the region where they make everything from scratch. Not just the meats and the pastries, but also the bread - the foundation for everything. And even if you're not interested in getting a sandwich, just come for the bread alone. It is worth the trip.
Little Saigon Baguette
5251 N Broadway
Extra Course: Little Saigon's refrigerated case