The Banh Mi Burger at Pee Wee's Famous Hot Dogs

Categories: Viet Vittles
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I've been talking to a lot of people lately about the Vietnamese influence on Orange County's food. Everything from the fusion French-Vietnamese bistros that only seem to exist in Little Saigon to luxe loncheras like Dos Chinos who fuse Vietnamese and Mexican flavors together.

Usually, the discussion revolves around the Vietnamese influence on non-Vietnamese food; discussions of the non-Vietnamese influence on Vietnamese foods typically are about the dumbing down of traditional Vietnamese dishes.

Then there's the banh mi burger at Pee Wee's Hot Dogs in Huntington Beach.

Yes, that's right--a banh mi burger. It's a hamburger, shaped to fit into a baguette, then dressed Viet-style: cilantro, mint, cucumbers, shaved chiles (jalapeños in this case), do chua (pickled daikon and carrot shreds), mayonnaise, and maybe a touch of Maggi (or maybe that was the marinade on the meat?).

Taken as a whole, it was a success--sort of. The flavor profile screamed banh mi, the baguette was right, the sandwich held together, and the burger itself made for an interesting riff on a xiu mai (meatball) banh mi. With a few tweaks, it'd be a perfect example of the American influence on the Vietnamese sandwich.

First, lose the mint. Whole Foods (and their awful, awful "banh mi") does the mint thing too, which puzzles me; I've been eating banh mi for years and I've never encountered one with mint on it. Cilantro, yes, absolutely; mint, never. It doesn't play well with others.

Second, adjust the salt level. Some of the dressing is salty, which means the burger needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Third, double the amount of do chua on the sandwich; there should be enough that every bite has some do chua in it.

Minor quibbles, to be sure, except for the mint. The hardest part is deciding what side to get--the sweet potato tots? the fancy fries? the best-in-class onion rings?--and whether to go for the homemade lemonade or the lavender limeade. (Pssst... guys... get a beer and wine license. PLEASE.)

How you know it's a damn good sandwich? It costs $5.95 and I'd pay it willingly. That's right--a $6 banh mi I'd actually seek out.

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6 comments
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AsianHBBeachBabe
AsianHBBeachBabe

Very impressed by your knowledge of the perfect banh mi elements. You got me when you busted out "do chua" after explaining what it was instead of just using the easier English words. Awesomely authentic. Thanks.

Jeff Overley
Jeff Overley

Not terribly surprised Pee Wee's is doing this; since opening, it's been serving sausages on baguettes sourced from Banh Mi Che Cali.

That said, $5.95 is pretty steep. I trust you, Dave, but Little Saigon is right up the street from PW's.

Michelle Woo
Michelle Woo

Think I'd rather have a banh mi hot dog! They should make that!

Samantha
Samantha

if you don't know about it already, youshould look up kalbi burger in LA on wilshire. i think they probably execute the banh mi burger better. ... and they have buns made out of baguettes. it's a must try.

I got nothin
I got nothin

Gonna have to give that banh mi burger a try. Perhaps in the future they could further vietnamize the menu by adding a side of nem nuong spring rolls made with a regular hot dog and a mustard based dipping sauce on the side. Instead of the wonton crisp, they could toss in a french fry. I've often been accused of adding too many ingredients, so maybe I should leave it to the professionals

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