Don’t Believe the Nom Nom/Phamish Hype, Mandoline Grill’s Pork Banh Mi Reigns Supreme
There’s no doubt that fusion tacos are the most ubiquitous item found on food trucks these days (thanks for that, Kogi!) but if you were forced to pick a runner up, you wouldn’t be wrong to think banh mi. Nom Nom Truck is undoubtedly the most famous, thanks to their nearly undefeated record on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, and the Phamish Truck was named one of L.A.’s ten best food trucks by Los Angeles Magazine. On paper Mandoline Grill is an easy pick for 3rd place (they’re vegan friendly and don’t even have pate and Vietnamese cold cuts!?!) and yet their grilled pork banh mi might be the best version from a food truck in the city.
The chunks of pork had this great flavor that really stands out from the rest of the ingredients. Slightly sweet and incredibly aromatic, I can imagine it would be amazing as an order of bun (served over rice vermicelli noodles). The veggies were pickled (good) and they don’t hold back on the big chunks of jalapeno, but the real star of this sandwich is the bread. The flavor of the pork might have been enough to bring home the gold, but the bread really punches home the victory. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, and really fresh tasting… just the way you want it to be. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they brush it with butter before loading up the sandwich. (It certainly couldn’t hurt.) And if you’re not into pork, I’m pretty sure the fried tofu is marinated in the same sauce… it also had a great flavor. (Yes, I tried the tofu. Don’t tell anybody.)
I can’t say for sure that Mandoline is better than Phamish and Nom Nom across the board. Phamish’s menu is huge (they have pho and fresh rolls!) and if you love pate and Vietnamese cold cuts as much as I do, you’ll be disappointed that Mandoline doesn’t carry either. But their pork is super tasty, and if bread is important to you, Mandoline’s is clearly the best.