Bánh mì in Louisville (part 8 of an onging series): French Indo-Canada Food Truck

French Indo-Canada has finally launched! Actually, they’ve been launched for well upwards of a month, and I’m only now getting around to writing it up.

[Photo of a sandwich from French Indo-Canada][Photo of a sandwich from French Indo-Canada]French Indo-Canada (various locations) is a food truck operating in Louisville serving bánh mì for the French Indochinese element, and poutine for the French Canadian element. It’s a kind of odd mix but when the project was first announced, I had to put my money where my mouth is, seeing as how I’ve been saying for years that a bánh mì food truck would be the awesomest thing ever. So I supported the Kickstarter for this project, and ended up with a handful of free-food coupons. If you don’t have a free food coupon, however, the sandwich, made with either pork or tofu, will run you $7.

Now, a couple of caveats before I lay into this one. I supported the Kickstarter, I love the idea, and I wanted very badly to be able to give this a thumbs-up, and on pure taste grounds I pretty much can, although I may well be biased. Both versions of the sandwich are in fact quite tasty, but as exemplars of the bánh mì they’re quite problematic. The most conspicuous problem to my eyes was the bread: when I saw the darker brown of a whole-grain sub, I was slightly dismayed, and when I felt the squishy crustlessness, I knew that the bread was going to be very strong evidence against authenticity of construction.

There are other, lesser sins against authenticity, but to my eyes the bread is actually a point of active inferiority: a nice robust roll with the right lightness and crispness lies at the heart of the bánh mì experience. To briefly itemize the less problematic elements, the pork seems to be stewed rather than grilled (although in fairness, the tofu in the vegetarian version is well within authenticity parameters for the protein element). The fixings are mostly excellent, with the veggies in proper proportion, although I’d go for longer, more substantial spears of cucumber. The mayo is right in quality and quantity, although placing it under the veggies is a more standard arrangement. I’m a bit flummoxed by the inclusion of sriracha, as it throws off the spice balance a bit. A bánh mì isn’t supposed to be terribly spicy, and in fact the slivered peppers which usually provide heat are often regarded as optional, and sriracha might throw off the balance a bit.

Most of this does not weigh heavily against the quality of the French Indo-Canada product as a sandwich in itself. The pork is actually quite tasty and if you like your sandwich with a hearty fieriness, the sriracha might not be unwelcome. I maintain that its quality as a sandwich, even without regard to authenticity, would be improved by larger cucumber spears and a more crispy roll, giving the whole a more satisfactory crunch. But even with these caveats, it’s a good sandwich in its way. I must admit to a certain disappointment for my own part, as I placed a lot of my hopes on the FIC project and am a bit of an authenticity snob, but if you just want a nice hearty sandwich with a summery herbal tang and a bit of a kick, the French Indo-Canada food truck delivers.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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