I approached the shaded patio located on the backside of a building that faced Colonial Drive. Wisp of blue gray smoke curled above several lounging men who smoked cigarettes. I asked if they knew where Nha Trang was located. They shook their heads and indicated they did not speak English. I walked into what appeared to be a coffee bar. A man approached and I asked him the same question. He pointed towards his right, told me to cross a small courtyard, and look for the sandwich shop. I thanked him and made my way towards the shop.
Two large windows stood on either side of a simple door with metal bars. Writing on the windows advertised gio thu and cha lua. Everything except the signing declaring the place open was in Vietnamese. I pushed the door open and walked into a one room shop. The walls were a pale cream. A small table with two folding chairs sat to the left. Newspapers cluttered the table. A refrigerator case full of various drinks and other items was on the right. A disco ball hung above a small desk. I walked to the back and was greeted by a very friendly woman. She spoke limited English and politely pointed me to a sign taped to the counter.
Listed on the sign were the sandwiches she made with a brief description of their contents. All of the sandwiches costs $3.00. I had no idea what to order and decided to go with the bánh mì đặc biệt. I watched her as she assembled the sandwich. She carefully placed various cold cuts in crusty bread. She toasted the sandwich and then topped it with a variety of fresh vegetables. When she was finished she wrapped it in a sheet of wax paper and secured it with a rubber band. She smiled as she handed it to me, and I thanked her. While I was outside taking a picture she came outside and asked me to take a picture of her in the doorway. She was very proud of her little shop, and she beamed as I snapped her photo. I love meeting owners like this as I try new restaurants!
When I got to a place where I could eat I removed the rubber band and peeled back the paper. Before taking a bite I sifted through the sandwich to see what I was about to eat. Inside was a variety meats including sliced ham (chu lua), roast pork (cha siu), sliced fish cake, daikon, and cilantro. A creamy garlic fish sauce blanketed the interior of each side of the roll.
I took a bite. Wow. The bread was crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The different meats blended together well. The garlic fish sauce sat in the background giving just a hint of fish flavor. The cilantro added a nice bite while the daikon provided a good crunch. The sandwich had both complex flavors and textures. It was amazing, and I was floored it only costs $3.00. I sat there eating and wished I had purchased a second for the trip back up I-75. Finding Nha Trang was not easy, but it was well worth the effort!
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