Banh Mi sandwiches seem to be “America’s Next Top Sandwich”. From grilling cookbooks to Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race”, they’re everywhere these days. We decided to see what all the fuss was about at 163 Vietnamese Sandwich on Harrison Ave, in Boston’s Chinatown.
163 is very small, with only a few tables, but a surprisingly large menu for what is basically a take-out sandwich shop. Menu aside, the Hungry Natives came for Banh Mi sandwiches. KD ordered the “Cold Cut Sandwich” while EA opted for the “BBQ Beef Sandwich”. In a few minutes, our sandwiches were ready. The total price including two waters, came to $7.75.
The BBQ Beef was excellent, with sweet yet slightly smoky beef on a very crusty Vietnamese Baguette, layered with cilantro, carrot, cucumber, daikon, sweet onions, chili peppers, fish sauce and a very tasty mayo. The sandwich was packed with vegetables, with just enough meat to be satisfying without being heavy. The veggies had a fresh snap to them, and a brightness that offset the beef perfectly.
The Cold Cut consisted of two types of meat, with the same veggies and crusty bread as the previous sandwich. When we say “Crusty” we mean you WILL make a mess eating this sandwich. That’s ok, it’s worth it. The first type of cold cut was like a pate, ground very fine. The second was rougher, with larger chunks of meat and tougher bits mixed together like a terrine. KD’s first bite did produce a chunk of bone (or something) but that’s a risk with any type of sausage. The combo had pretty familiar deli-meat flavors that were elevated by the crispy vegetables and salty sauce.
The sandwiches at 163 were well made, fast, inexpensive and most importantly, really tasty. 163 is great place for a quick, cheap meal, and they have bubble-tea, spring rolls and many other menu items.
Here are some interesting looking books on Boston’s Chinatown as well as San Francisco’s and New York’s…
Chinese in Boston, 1870-1965
San Francisco’s Chinatown
Chinatown New York: Portraits, Recipes, and Memories
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