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#1 Neven

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:26 PM

Double Dragon opened today at SE 11th & Division, in the old Artemis space across from Los Gorditos. It's a banh mi shop, with a small menu and a medium-sized space with a coffee-ship vibe to the layout. I went in for lunch shortly after they opened. Obviously this is a terrible time to judge a restaurant by, but I think I can comment on a few things.

The menu includes about 6 kinds of banh mi - pork belly, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, cauliflower+pepper, a few more - and some small side-pickles. There was also soup, which I think I overheard was pho. I got the BBQ chicken banh mi, which came with chips. It was about 8" long and on the skinny side - actually, the whole sandwich reminded me of the baguette sandwiches at Addy's cart, for some reason.

The bread is house-made, which I respect. That said, it doesn't felt quite right to me - it's not crusty enough on the outside or fluffy enough on the inside. Needs more "contrast" (which usually means higher heat, right?) It was also sliced through, into two halves, which is definitely not the authentic banh mi style. I don't care about authenticity for theoretical reasons, but for a practical one: the sandwich was both somewhat light on toppings and a bit messy. Hinged baguette just makes more sense for a wet, loaded sandwich.

The chicken was basically pulled chicken with BBQ sauce. It wasn't bad, but I'd prefer slow-cooked, smoker chicken; something with more char and depth. The carrot+daikon pickles were fine, though I could've used about three times as much as they included. This also came with pickled onions which worked well. Lots of cilantro to top it off - no complaints there. The chips were good, but I'm pretty sure they weren't house-made; not a problem at all, just mentioning.

The space is very much finished, and the design is great. It's somewhere between Wafu and Whiskey Soda Lounge - modern, clean, but there's lots of interesting stuff on the walls.

Overall, this was a totally decent sandwich, but I see two main issues:

1. It strays enough from the Vietnamese banh mi formula that a lot of folks may be a bit surprised;
2. The price is a bit rough. At $8.25, these will have a hard time competing with Best Baguette's $2.75-$3.50, 12" sandwiches. (I also prefer the overall product at Best Baguette, but whatever.) I hate to be the guy who says someone is charging too much for their quality ingredients and hard work, but there's a disconnect here. A $8.25 banh mi better blow your mind.

I'll check it again in a few weeks and sample a bit more of the menu. I'd definitely like to have a close-in option for banh mi.

 

UPDATE: The place has improved significantly on subsequent visits. Read on.



#2 goodbyeohio

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 06:16 PM

Posted ImagePosted Image

the menu^^

i work across the street from here on the weekends and am looking fwd to an alternative to gorditos and the ford cafe.
Cause I like to drink whiskey by the gallon, I live on peanut butter sandwiches, I don't care
GG Allin

#3 polloelastico

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 06:43 PM

It's probably unfair to judge this place by the Binh Minh Index, but you can get a really wonderful sandwich for $2.75 at Binh Minh, An Xuyen, etc. Granted, those are snacks that I finish in the matter of 45 seconds (often while driving), and it would take 2 sandwiches to match what Bunk (or even Jade in Sellwood) sells, but that's a price index that has been firmly established by market forces, so I'm not making the rules.

For cultural reasons, I don't really consider a banh mi a meal and don't generally try to make them as such (more like dessert for me), but I'm pretty certain the rest of the eating public does not jibe with my idiosyncratic ways. I think they are mining the upscale banh mi trend (and branding) being pushed by upstarts in SF like Bun Mee: http://www.bunmee.co/, so it's probably a format that can be successful (or at least get a lot of press). They have a decent menu and pedigree, so we'll have to see.

Welcome to PF.org, Neven. Good to see Panic represent on this board.
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#4 ExtraMSG

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 06:48 PM

I don't mind them charging more for a nicer place if they're using better quality ingredients. But the sandwiches better at least be as big as the $4 extra meat sandwiches at most banh mi shops. And ideally, they should be at least as good as the better banh mi shops. I mean, sure, Bunk, MCB, K&Z SW, Eastmoreland, et al, are more expensive than Subway or even some of the old school sub shops in town, but it's pretty obvious the quality is better from top to bottom.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#5 jmatt

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 12:12 AM

I'm interested to try this place---it's interesting when a spin is put on the traditional banh mi, but living walking distance to Binh Minh Broadway may make it hard to do so unless I'm in the area. Would be a good snack to take over to Apex.

#6 philthyanimal

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 02:15 AM

the banh mi is a meal at some of the so cal banh mi shops...like lee's sandwiches. they are 10 inches and filled with as much or more meat than a footlong subway. they run 3.75 a sammy and they usually offer buy X get 1 free deals too.

#7 polloelastico

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 08:27 AM

the banh mi is a meal at some of the so cal banh mi shops...like lee's sandwiches. they are 10 inches and filled with as much or more meat than a footlong subway. they run 3.75 a sammy and they usually offer buy X get 1 free deals too.

Lee's is terrible, IMO. Everything is cheaper in Orange County - you can get a good bowl of pho for less than $6 still. Nem nuoung rolls from Brodard, expertly apportioned and composed, are 4 for $6 and easily qualify as a nice lunch.
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” — George Carlin

#8 Napzard

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 11:37 AM

PE!! My parents own a Lee's Sandwiches in Westminster, I'm sad that you've said that now. Kidding man, I'm not a huge fan of their sandwiches either but I do have to support my parents when I'm down there.

#9 nervousxtian

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 07:41 PM

Better be a damned good banh mi for 8.50. Damned good.

#10 philthyanimal

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:49 PM

i dunno i love lees...i'll take lees over binh minh or best baguette

#11 ExtraMSG

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 09:26 AM

i dunno i love lees...i'll take lees over binh minh or best baguette


Maybe you've been to better Lee's than me, but I've been to several and I think it has major problems when it comes to the meats and pate. Obviously Best Baguette is borrowing from the Lee's model, even with the Saigon bacon, but I think Best Baguette does better than any of the Lee's I've been to. I was just in Dallas earlier this year, eg, and did a survey of all banh mi in the Richardson/Garland area and Lee's scored in the middle. It wasn't bad, but like most Lee's I've been to, somewhere in the C+/B- area. I've been to ones in Sacramento, the South Bay, and LA, and they're always sufficient, but not even as good as our better places. And with the options in San Jose or LA, that makes them not even worth the effort, imo.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#12 JayinPortland

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 07:24 PM

Sorry if I'm going too off-topic, but the discussion above on bahn mi prices immediately struck me as I stumbled across this place in the Chicago French Market, whose menu I am perusing right now as I'm considering picking up a sandwich there during a 6-hour Amtrak layover Tuesday morning / afternoon on the way home.

http://saigonsisters.com/menus

#13 vj

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 07:41 PM

Those prices are decent for Chicago. And damn, the sandwiches sure sound good. You'll have to report back about your results, Jay!

#14 goodbyeohio

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 07:40 AM

had the #5 meatball, was tempted by the 'secrets'. i will echo the sentiment of my friend who ate the same sandwich.. definitely missing the pickled daikon for textural reasons. i'll be damned though if the meatball wasn't one of the best i've had. Nice texture, supple without being dry. well seasoned. sandwich overall had a bit too much of the aioli.. wanted to taste the aioli less and meatball more due to it being so delicious. i didn't have a problem with the bread like the above eater. definitely not your traditional french baguette, and even pushed this sandwich into the 'meatball sub' category. not traditional, but maybe ok with me because after reading here, i expected it.

this high-end comfort food is a conundrum of sorts.. i want double the amount of everything, but can't have it because it exists to present more developed flavors in moderation. yet that doesn't stop me from wanting to pig out on it. next rainy day, i'll be returning for the spicy soup.
Cause I like to drink whiskey by the gallon, I live on peanut butter sandwiches, I don't care
GG Allin

#15 Flynn

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 09:49 PM

So here's what we're looking at with the meatball. Bad pic, but there's three pretty good sized meatballs in there:


Attached File  IMG_1317.JPG   601.79K   5 downloads

I'm of two minds. I'd say this is about 1.5-2.0x the food content of a normal banh mi. The ingredients and care put into the sandwich are very high, and the meatballs were really good (even though there were too many secrets on the whole thing.) But yeah...it's spendy. It won't replace Binh Minh or Tan Tan when I want a snack and a coffee for right around $6. It's not as traditional as Lela's banh mi, which are also fancied up from the usual as well as cheaper. People are going to debate value about DD, and I understand why.

OTOH, I'm opting to not even put it in the banh mi category. If I look at it as a tasty sandwich to eat at Apex? I'm totally in. Los Gorditos kinda sucks, and I see myself frequently heading over here when I'm at Apex.

#16 JayinPortland

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 02:22 PM

Those prices are decent for Chicago. And damn, the sandwiches sure sound good. You'll have to report back about your results, Jay!


Had the braised pork belly banh mi. Was quite good. As soon as I can upload my pics from the trip, including the (bad-ish, heh) pic of the sandwich on a bench in the Great Hall of Union Station (weird, weird vibe in the Chicago French Market, didn't feel comfortable taking pics inside), I'll post on it in the Chicago thread.

#17 goodbyeohio

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 12:41 PM

in related WTF news:

these sandwiches are now 1/2 the size they were for the first two weeks of being open!!! (and no price decrease).

i'd be surprised if the sandwiches ordered this weekend were >4" in length!

either they're in $$$$ trouble or this was the plan all along. either way, i've had my last sandwich there until they fix the portion size.
Cause I like to drink whiskey by the gallon, I live on peanut butter sandwiches, I don't care
GG Allin

#18 Quo Vadis

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 02:23 PM

in related WTF news:

these sandwiches are now 1/2 the size they were for the first two weeks of being open!!! (and no price decrease).

i'd be surprised if the sandwiches ordered this weekend were >4" in length!

either they're in $$$$ trouble or this was the plan all along. either way, i've had my last sandwich there until they fix the portion size.


Might be a good idea to ask them about it?
If they aren't baking the bread in house it could be an issue with the bakery they get their bread from.
For my kimcheezesteaks for instance, I purchased the bread from an Asian bakery and from one day to the next there could be a significant difference in size. I tried to allow for that in either price or fillings when the difference seemed bad to me.
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances-Hume

#19 deactivated

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 04:02 PM

I stopped by recently, and it looks like they changed a few things since the last post here.

First, a picture of the pulled pork:

Posted Image

Sandwiches are $7.50 now and the bread is different. I'm not sure how large the sandwiches used to be, but the portion size here was fine. Value-wise, it's in the same league as Bunk or any of the other $7-$10 sandwich places. The bread is no longer cut completely in half, which is a distinct improvement.

This was a very good sandwich. I think it would benefit from less aioli and a slightly heavier toast on the bread, but the pork tasted great and the other ingredients were well composed.

#20 goodbyeohio

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 10:21 AM

yup. back to being big again. hopefully this approach works. it will get me in there more, thats for sure. regardless of the superior quality, in that location, they need to compete with the value of los gorditos.
Cause I like to drink whiskey by the gallon, I live on peanut butter sandwiches, I don't care
GG Allin