Brisket Banh Mi – Gjelina Take Away, Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice

brisketbanhmiOn more than one occasion, both on this site and elsewhere, I have summarized a sandwich as “10/10 concept, 2/10 execution.” This is simply my preferred way of saying that something is a good idea but whoever executed it fell short. Although I hadn’t given it much thought, prior to eating at Gjelina Take Away, I would have been skeptical that the inverse was possible. 10/10 execution, 2/10 concept? If it’s such a poor concept, surely carrying it out can’t bring high marks. I’m still not sure if such a thing is possible, but if it is you’ll find it pictured above. Beef brisket on a bánh mì is not something I would have come up with, and I would argue that that’s for good reason.

Lots of things can and do go onbánh mìs, with a variety of flavor profiles resulting. That said, they tend to have commonalities between them, usually in the form of…well, Vietnamese flavors. I’m not sure an enjoyable bánh mì is possible without that, and the brisket bánh mì wasn’t encouraging. The beef was awfully rich and seemed bland in comparison to the kind of thing I’m accustomed to in a bánh mì, and overall the sandwich lacked a brightness that a good bánh mì has in spades. The brisket was just too much, and the cilantro wasn’t up to the task of reeling it in.

All of that said, this sandwich felt like exactly what it was intended to be. The brisket was tender and juicy, the vegetables fresh, present in sensible proportion, and the baguette had a tremendous crust. In short, 10/10 execution, 2/10 concept.

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