Bánh Mì Thịt Nguội – Long Phung Sandwich & Food, Tully Rd, San Jose, CA

Long Phung Sandwich & Food is square on the southeast side of San Jose, an area where if you pick a store at random you’re more likely to hear Vietnamese than not. These are the places one goes in search of a fine bánh mì, and it has been my experience that the people in these areas are all too happy to provide that fine sandwich. There are some perils to this, however, and the language barrier is one of them. In most establishments the various sandwiches on offer are clearly delineated in Vietnamese, but the English names are a little bit more hazy. My beloved thịt nướng is sometimes labeled as BBQ Pork, and sometimes as Grilled Pork. In the case of Long Phung, the sandwich was clearly marked as thịt nguội, but the only English description provided was “Pork.” I could inquire after more information, but often the language barrier comes up again. I ordered the pork and went on my way.

As it turns out, thịt nguội means cold cuts. I’m no great fan of cold cuts, and it was interesting to see how they translated to my favorite sandwich. The meat was flavorful and moist, some with the more tender texture of ham and some more firm, as you might see in a salami. As for what kind of bánh mì they made, it was about what you’d expect. The baguette and vegetables were passable but not the best I’ve ever had, and it didn’t seem to me that the meat really had the chewy tenderness I look for. I phrase that personally for a reason. This is a popular filling for a bánh mì. I’ll touch on this later this month, but the more bánh mìs I eat the more I come to accept that other people might value different things. In the final analysis, that’s about where this sandwich stacks up. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t for me.