DD Mau, Banh Mi Sandwich Shop: Classic with a Twist
1239 Pacific Boulevard, Yaletown, Vancouver
Across from the Roundhouse, in hipster central, Yaletown is the new banh mi sandwich shop, DD Mau. Diana (Foodology), Rick and I attended the Grand Opening Party. I was impressed by the decor right away: minimalist, clean and modern, the interior of DD Mau is a far cry from the typical, dingy banh mi sandwich shops in Vancouver. I particularly loved the old bicycle hanging from the ceiling, it was a charming touch, adding a homey warmth to the ambiance.
As soon as we arrived, we were served some beer: Howe Sound Brewing Company’s honey lager, a nice mild and refreshing beer that tasted great with banh mi sandwiches.
The first sandwich we tried was the BBQ pork with kimchi. Thankfully, I had a full cup of beer to wash down the spiciness. I found the kimchi spicy but it was pretty standard according to Diana. The pork underneath the kimchi was soft and tender. I was impressed by the amount of meat in this little bit of sandwich. The baguettes also tasted fresh with a crispy outer shell and soft middles absorbing all the kimchi and juice from the moist pork. The crunchy vegetables were also tasty (and I don’t usually say that about veggies!), refreshing and light, balancing out the heat from the kimchi and the heavier, fatty textures from the pork.
Next up was the grilled lemongrass chicken. The chicken was so tender! There were big chunks of it in the sandwich too! I was surprised by the intense spiciness from the thin slice of jalapeno on top of the sandwich. Admittedly, even though I had to guzzle the beer to cool my tongue, the spicy jalapeno really did heighten the flavours of the other sandwich fillings: the sweet chili aioli and the cucumbers and pickled daikon.
My favourite banh mi sandwich was one of the specials, the BBQ duck. The duck meat was just so juicy and the skin was crispy and salty, and the meat was still warm when it was served to us. It was definitely the best sandwich of the afternoon.
The other special was the crispy roasted pork which totally reminded me of Meat and Bread’s famous porchetta sandwich with bits of crispy pork skin right there in the middle of the sandwich. The pork itself was moist and succulent. The banh mi specials are advertised on a huge roll of meatpacking paper hanging on the wall opposite the bike wall. It’s a pretty cool and efficient way to feature the specials.
I was surprised that I actually loved the grilled lemongrass tofu banh mi. Anyone who knows me knows that I love meat so much, I barely ever order any vegetarian items. The tofu in this sandwich was actually very flavourful, acting like a sponge chock full of spices and seasoning. I also loved the tangy house aioli in this sandwich (it’s incorporated in many of DD Mau’s sandwiches).
The classic sandwich was also scrumptious, featuring a whole stack of cold cut deli meats with pate and the house aioli. This banh mi is more of what I’m used to eating. I happen to love Vietnamese cold cuts, my mother grew up in Vietnam and incorporated many Vietnamese ingredients into her cooking as I was growing up.
We all got very excited when the spring rolls were passed around. Who doesn’t love deep fried spring rolls? And these were covered in the house aioli that I was starting to fall in love with. The spring rolls smelled amazing as they were being passed around, I had to take two.
The spring roll shell was nice and crispy and the minced meat and vermicelli fillings inside were well seasoned and flavourful. These spring rolls definitely have an addictive quality.
In addition to the Howe Sound Brewing honey lager, we were also treated to some other drinks including traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, which was strong and bold. I usually spoon in double the amount of condensed milk so drinking it without all that sugar was new for me. It was still tasty though.
I also loved the honeydew smoothy, it tasted sweet, fresh and light. It was a major cooling element after all the kimchi we ate.
The smoothies here are made with fresh fruit and almond milk; DD Mau uses whatever seasonal fruits are fresh. Luckily avocado was available and the avocado smoothy was the best one at the party, creamy but also light and sweet.
The lemon fizz was also refreshing and tasty. It’s house-made and reminded me of a slightly less sweet version of San Pellegrino Limonata.
I had a great time at the DD Mau Grand Opening Party. Make sure you visit them on their Big Public Grand Opening on Saturday, April 7, 2012. If you buy a signature drink you get a free 6 inch banh mi sandwich! Get the BBQ duck banh mi, it’s the best!