Before a Vietnamese dinner with friends on Monday, thought I'd pick up a banh mi — half for an appetizer, half for a midnight snack. I'd loved the spicy catfish sandwich at Baoguette and looked forward to taking the basic banh mi for a spin, but shortly after 5:00, three hours before the posted closing, I was greeted by the sign above. They'd run out of bread, so although there was "soup for you," no sandwich.
No matter; I hopped the subway to Canal St., closer to dinner and to A Chau Deli (below), which one Eating In Translation reader had recommended to me as his "favorite banh mi in the city." I'd never tried it, and at this address I never will; the folks on duty were out of bread and cleaning up for the day, their "last day." The rent had been raised beyond their reach, they told me, and although they hoped to find a new home for A Chau Deli, as of Monday they hadn't secured another location. I could only wish them good luck.
After a short photo stroll through the neighborhood (Got gator?), I joined my friends at the recently opened Pho So 1 on Mott St. At bottom, that's bo tai chanh ($11.95), beef salad marinated in lime juice, with basil and crushed peanut. (More about Pho So 1 in a later post.) As our meal wound down, two members of our party each successfully ordered a Vietnamese sandwich to go (for significant others who couldn't join us, was the story), but after mopping up my fair share of our family-style meal, and then some, I left the banh mi for a new day.