For some reason it did not occur to me until I was already on the way to a lunch at Hoangie’s Banh Mi on Wheels food truck that my last (and first) food truck review involved a Banh Mi sandwich. Some people might think I’m partial to Banh Mi’s. They would be right. For that matter, the next Asian Cuisine I don’t like will be the first.
Hoangie’s Banh Mi on Wheels is a family affair. Jenny Hoang works the window, calling out orders to her brother who works the line. The name of the truck is a mash-up of the family name and “Hoagies” – the word for “sub” sandwiches in Philadelphia where Ms. Hoang lived for a number of years.
I was incredibly excited to hear that a Banh Mi truck was coming to San Diego. Ever since watching the exploits of Los Angeles’ Nom Nom Truck on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, the notion of a Banh Mi Truck made all the sense in the world to me. With San Diego’s Food Truck scene so well developed — and with so many Vietnamese restaurants in town – it seemed strange that we did not have such a truck here. Now we do.
I started my lunch with Hoangies’ Vietnamese Egg Rolls. Served with aoli instead of the traditional fish sauce-vinegar and sugar based Nuoc Cham sauce, these fried pork rolls – subtly different from the familiar Chinese variety or the Filipino version known as “Lumpia” – were a good interpretation of the classic. They were crispy, though not overfried, with a rich, meaty goodness. While I respected the innovation of the aioli, I found myself wondering whether they might have felt lighter and a bit fresher with the Nuoc Cham.
But when “Banh Mi on Wheels” is part of the name, the Egg Rolls were never going to be the featured attraction. That, of course, would be the Banh Mi. Hoangie’s offers four such sandwiches: the Hoangie MOO (featuring pepper steak), the Hoangie Doodle Doo (chicken breast), Hoangie OINK (pork), and the Hoangie Tofu. All four options come on a wonderfully light French bread roll and are accompanied by the classic daikon and carrot pickle, cilantro, jalapeno and a hit of the aioli, though one can opt out of any of it…but why?
I chose the Hoangie OINK. And it does say “oink.” The leading characteristic of this sandwich is, without a doubt, porkiness. But as soon as that realization sinks in the sweet acidity of the pickled carrot and daikon kick in to carry you to the next bite. Where the aioli was less than fully successful with the Egg Rolls, it is a great innovation here. It serves perfectly to provide an almost earthy note that contrasts nicely with the pickle.
I will be back, probably to try the Hoangie MOO. I don’t do well at resisting Banh Mi, do I?