On Argyle Street, finding a good banh mi sandwich is easy. But until the recent arrival of Nhu Lan Bakery, scoring a pork-packed Vietnamese sandwich elsewhere was a tough task.
When Nhu Lan recently took over a Ravenswood Greek bakery’s space, it inherited its massive ovens as well. Only now, instead of churning out baklava, the ovens produce about 1,000 deliciously crusty loaves of bread a day, providing the canvas for eight different banh mi. A chicken and a vegetarian variety are available, but why bother? Go with tradition and pig out on the meaty grilled-pork version or the “seasoning pork,” which layers glistening pork belly atop a slather of peppery house-made pâté. All come with lightly pickled carrot and jicama slivers, jalapeño slices, cilantro sprigs and a sweet house-made mayo.
To make a meal, grab sides from the pastry case and fridge. (The owner is quick to warm up items and offer cups for wine if you choose to eat at one of two tables.) Don’t miss the dried shrimp sticky rice topped with Chinese sausage and “pork roll”; steamed buns packed with black pepper–seasoned pork, hard-boiled quail eggs and bits of black mushroom; smoky, tartarelike “ham snacks” with raw garlic and chilies; and cheese-filled croissants, evidence that the French occupation of Vietnam had at least one positive outcome.