Eating on the Cheap: Banh Mi Dac Biet at Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food Truck

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.

Banh Mi Dac Biet from Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food Truck (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Banh Mi Dac Biet from Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food Truck (Credit: Jackie Tran)

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.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.