How do you make the perfect Vietnamese banh mi sandwich? That’s a question Linh Nguyen, owner of the new food truck Vina Baguette, is uniquely qualified to answer.
“Well, 50 percent is the baguette you use. I get mine from La Baguette on Pantano,” Nguyen said today. “And you have to marinate the meat for at least a day and you have to cook it slow for at least two hours."
"Every single item has to be blended together — the daikon, the pickled carrots, the cucumbers, everything. It seems simple, but it’s very technical.”
Nguyen is from Vietnam, arriving in Tucson back in 1986 and graduating from Rincon High School. He went on to work at a variety of jobs, most recently managing Miss Saigon Bar and Grill in Tucson. He also did a stint at Vietnamese restaurant Ha Long Bay out on Broadway Boulevard.
“Then one day about a year ago I bought a truck and figured that everywhere in the United States they were talking about banh mi, so I figured let’s start a food truck and cruise around Tucson."
The truck hit the streets at the end of February and has been popping up on corners around town ever since.
Vina Baguette serves a number of banh mi variations — which in its most elemental form is a bun stuffed with some kind of meat, pickled vegetables, hot peppers, cilantro and a mayonnaise-based spread.
He currently has versions made with pork, chicken and bo luc lac, seasoned beef cooked in a wok and known for its flavorful payload. For vegetarians, there's a lemon-grass tofu version on the menu.
On the beverage front, think boba milk tea, green tea and iced Vietnamese coffee.