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.