House-made bread and cold cuts make all the difference.
As a Vietnamese-American growing up in Tucson, I have two favorite sandwiches. Both selections are heavily biased.
The Mexican food-loving side of me adores the cemita from El Antojo Poblano. The Vietnamese side of me cherishes the banh mi dac biet ($4.50) from Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food Truck.
Like the cemita or Sonoran hot dog, the bread is crucial to the experience. The Vietnamese baguette features a light, crisp crust that won’t scratch your palate. Like a potato bun for a smashburger, the soft and fluffy interior doesn’t overpower the fillings.
Of course, the fillings are the other crucial components — but not the protein. The cool, crisp cucumber and cilantro help balance the sharp grassy heat of raw jalapeño slices. The sweet-and-sour daikon and carrot pickles add moist crunch and balance the saltiness of the proteins. The spread of lightly sweet, buttery Vietnamese mayo and a dash of soy sauce brings it all together.
While I opt for the fatty Vietnamese cold cut combo of the banh mi dac biet, any of Nhu Lan’s other proteins will serve you well. Their house-made bread and veggie-protein ratio are what help propel them in a ocean of food trucks.
Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food Truck also has a location at The Boxyard at 238 N. Fourth Ave. Keep up with Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food Truck on Facebook.