Nhu Lan Sandwich Shop

Deli, Vietnamese
$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

Tucked away in an interior mall of the sprawling Eden Center, the family-run Nhu Lan rewards its finders with some of the finest subs around, what the Vietnamese refer to as banh mi. The base of the treat is a toasted baguette, slathered with mayonnaise and heaped with lightly pickled carrots and radishes, fresh cilantro and a choice of meat. I'm particularly fond of the banh mi stuffed with pork meatballs -- soft and crumbly meat seasoned with minced garlic, onions, celery and just a suggestion of sugar. The meatballs' shocking red color comes by way of food dye; some heat sneaks into the picture with slivers of jalapeno. The tab: $2.50 per sandwich, but cheaper if you purchase in bulk. "Buy five, get one free," tempts a sign behind the counter, which is watched over by owner Ha Lu. Not much bigger than a stall, store No. 14 hops on weekends, when Lu brings in family members to help make the upwards of 1,500 banh mi she sells on Saturday and Sunday.

-- Tom Sietsema (July 2, 2006)