UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
Last weekend, we had THE Umamiventure of Umamiventures. It was a gorgeous, cloudless August day- over the course of 4+ hours, 15 of us hit up 4 sandwich spots in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Yes, somehow there were 15 people on Planet Earth insane enough to go on this trip- some who had never had a Vietnamese sandwich before. SWEET!

Since this was such an intense project, I'm breaking our trip up into 4 posts- yes, for each place we visited. Many of the participants wrote in their testimonials of what they thought of their sandwiches. Special thanks to J. Slab of Porkchop Express whose personal advice was instrumental in putting this crawl together. Sarah DiGregorio's
Village Voice article on banh mi was also a crucial reference.

Ok, here's our first stop. Hailed as one of NY's best banh mi by many reliable sources, we all met at Ba Xuyen at 1pm.

Tyson: The #1 house special was amazing. The meat (different cuts than at the run-of-the-mill banh mi vendors) was very delicately sliced, and spiced more subtly than the greasy, days-old pork bits at many other places. The cilantro was fresh, the pickles appropriately sour and slightly sweet, and the finely-chopped chilies on top were much more enjoyable than the thick slices of jalapeño (or even Sriracha) that are the norm at lazier shops.

The bread was very crispy without shattering into dry, mouth-puncturing bits, and the sandwich had a perfect size, texture, and flavor overall—I have nothing negative at all to say about this banh mi. They make a nice, strong iced coffee, too.


Michelle: The ingredients were fresh and beautifully prepared - thinly sliced meats and vegetables, good seasoning, and really good bread. Both the #1 and the sardine were quite good.

Amy Ann: I had the sardine sandwich at the first place. My favorite sandwich. Not too fishy. Good, clean taste of veggies. I liked that the bread was grilled. The sardines held up nicely as individual fillets, and weren't tomatoey (Hanco's has them in tomato sauce). They were bringing more bread in as we were leaving, so you can tell their ingredients are fresh. Getting the iced tea instead of coffee was a mistake.

Paystyle: We had the grilled pork there, and it was fantastic. Had we not planned on going elsewhere, I surely would've ordered another. What made this the standout sandwich is the fact that there were no superfluous parts in it--right down to the bread. One of my simple metrics for a good sandwich (besides how it tastes) is how much of the bread I have leftover. A great sandwich almost invariably leaves you with nothing left on your plate--not even any bread. At Ba Xuyen I ate the entire thing b/c even the bread was soaked in that sauce and pork juice.

Radhika: My favorite was the faux deviled eggs! They were yummy and so cute. The whole colonial Vietnam fusion theme (which banh mis are such a delicious specimen of), carried over to the eggs too - the French hors d'oeuvre made with sweet+savory Southeast Asian ingredients (and it was mock protein which is so Asian :-) . Wikipedia says egg substitutes are sometimes made with tapioca starch so maybe the egg white part was coconut-infused tapioca, which makes them sound fancy. They were like the most whimsical food item I've seen in my life.



Paystyle: Iced Pickled Lemonade: although I wouldn't get it again, I don't think it was b/c of their execution, but rather that it just wasn't my taste. However I am glad I tried it.


Paystyle: Avocado shake: amazing; I can't believe I never thought to incorporate avocado in a sweet way. Richer and creamier than the avocado shakes I saw others get at other spots.

...And the crawl must go on. NEXT!



Ba Xuyen
4222 8th Ave
Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.633.6601

Please join us for our next Umamiventure! Join the Umami Mart FACEBOOK group to stay updated on these monthly trips, where we burrow deep into the crevices of NYC for unique, cheap eats.

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6 comments

  • Dude finally!! But I am so sad at the same time :( I would have been one of those first timers as well!

    Sonja on

  • yay! i’ve been waiting for this post! so mad i missed the ’venture (again!)…ugh…thanks for the recap

    Hamamama on

  • thanks EIT, this is good to know. i initially had bought these cause i did think they were devil eggs. i was pleasantly suprised with the sweet/savory combination of these.

    the white part though definitely had the texture of jello- is that really steamed rice cake? it also did taste like coconut.

    where do you go for Vietnamese in the city? do you have any recommendations?

    kayoko on

  • The “faux deviled eggs” are called bánh bèo. They’re steamed rice cakes with a variety of savory toppings; they may have originated in the old Vietnamese capital of Hue, though you can find them throughout Ho Chi Minh City, too. Here’s a few more photos of bánh bèo, four from a trip to Vietnam and one from dinner at Pho Tu Do, in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

    Eating In Translation on

  • by the way what does the avocado shake taste like? waht do they put in it to make it sweet? i must try one.

    Hamamama on

  • also, great pics!!!

    kayoko on

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