Monday, September 16, 2013
Lardo - Portland, OR
Lardo offers a limited number of sandwiches each sounding as desirable as the other and if I had more time and money, I'd try them all. As is I went with their number one seller the Banh Mi even though it truly wasn't my first choice.
I have eaten more Banh Mi sandwiches prepared in numerous Vietnamese eateries than I can recall. Each I suppose was authentic as a banh mi can get and even though they appear to be essentially identical each has a slight variation. Not being a Vietnamese establishment, I was a little more than skeptical that Lardo would do the bahn mi justice. And what was with the price of $9? Vietnamese shops usually charged anywhere from $2.50 to no more than $5. What was Lardo doing charging 2 to 3 times the market rate?
As sandwiches are made to order, it took about 10 minutes before it arrived. Sitting out in the garden watching the traffic made the maddening wait a little more tolerable.
Pork Meatball Banh Mi. I couldn't help make comparisons between the traditional authentic bahn mi vs the Lardo version. The traditional is about 8 inches. long vs. the Lardo 6 inches. The traditional uses a French baguette vs. the Lardo ciabatta. The traditional uses slightly larger than shoestring sized cuts of pickled vegetables provided big crunch vs. the Lardo fine shred. The traditional has whole stems of cilantro vs. the Lardo finely chopped shreds sans stems.
The most important questions. How did Lardo's version taste and was it worth the asking price?
Taste. It was fantastic! It exceeded expectation. The crunchy exterior and soft interior of the ciabatta works better than and provides a great mouth feel not offered by the traditional French baguette. The cilantro was fresher and more intense than I've had on any previous bahn mi. The pork meat ball was flavorful, slightly smoky, savory and tender. The pickled vegetables were probably the weakest ingredient as I missed the crunch and sweetness of the big daikon. It was a whole lot easier eating the Lardo package not having to fight against the chewy slow masticating baguette. The sriracha mayo lets you know its there to help rather than dominate. Bottom line. I like Lardo's banh mi more than the traditional.
Cost. Like everybody else, I'd like to pay as little as possible. That being said, Lardo uses top notch ingredients and prepares the food well. It's pricey but I'm willing to fork over my money to Lardo's.
Restroom Rating: Didn't use