As we are casting our votes for season 2, season 1 has us salivating for a banh mi from the Nom Nom Truck. The Nom Nom team has won each of the first three challenges taking place in San Diego, Santa Fe and Fort Worth. The contestants are not judged on the quality of their food as much as their ability to sell product and bring in the cash that garners a win.
Nom Nom Truck's ability to win three in a row illustrates some great business basics that keep them on the top.
Networking: The team contacts media outlets and potential business "partners" before they hit town.
Outsourcing: Tackling fabrication of a "leg of cow" they enlist the assistance of a butcher.
Location-location-location: Choosing locations with high visibility and customers from complementary businesses like coffee shops and gourmet markets.
Add to that their specialty, banh mi, which easily adapts to the additional truck stop challenges thrown at the teams by Tyler Florence. Banh mi is a Vietnamese specialty sandwich. Its fusion food, the base is an adaptation of a French baguette, made with wheat and rice flour. Traditionally, the bread is filled with meat pate, cured meats, pickled daikon and carrots, seedless cucumber, cilantro sprigs, jalapeño slices, and Asian-style mayo.
Often, the quality of banh mi is judged by the bread. In our book, the best banh mi bread is a lighter version of the French baguette, crisp but not too thick crust with a light, not dense crumb. Some prefer sandwiches with bread soft inside and out, it's a matter of preference.
The Great Food Truck Race continues to head east to New Orleans next week. Before the next episode, we know we need to get a Bahn Mi fix. Luckily we have some perfect places to score Banh Mi traditional, or with American style fixins' all around town. Feel free to add your recommendation in the comments section.
Lee's Sandwiches 1901 W Warner Road, Chandler
The first Lee's business actually was a food truck in CA. This popular California based sandwich shop caters to both kinds banh mi lovers-devotees of traditional and those preferring American style. You can spot a regular customer as they rattle off about # this or # that when naming their favorite.
Tea Light Café 7000 E Mayo Blvd., Phoenix
Tea Light serves banh mi four ways, choose ham, marinated beef, chicken or meatball filling. Although their Vietnamese sandwiches lean toward the American palate, they are fresh, flavorful and satisfying. Customer favorite: marinated beef.
Da Vang Coffee Shop 4538 N 19th Avenue, Phoenix
Da Vang is popular local neighborhood spot for Vietnamese fare. Da Vang serves six types of bahn mi with traditional toppings: ham, BBQ pork, meatball, red pork, shredded seasoned pork and chicken.
Pho Thanh 1702 W Camelback Road, Phoenix
Pho Thanh makes binh mi on soft, roll style, bread. The roll has a slightly sweet flavor along with a fluffy crumb. Four sandwiches are listed on the menu: cold cut combo, grilled pork, BBQ pork, and shredded pork. Traditional garnishes, the meat fillings are fresh and balanced with flavor.