The Vietnamese sandwich, or banh mi, is a remarkable culinary portmanteau. Vestiges of French colonialism - baguettes and mayo - find company and favour with Vietnamese pickled carrots, splashy cilantro, and spiced meats. Though Edmonton is, in terms of everything from climate to architecture, about as far from southeast Asian as one can get, there is not a paucity of good banh mi.
Though most such sandwich outposts are within, or within a few blocks of, Chinatown, several have opened second locations on Whyte Avenue. Nhon Hoa Sandwich Bar holds its own in a sparse and somewhat seedy room. The relative lack of seating is compensated for by studious and masterfully efficient service. A Saté Chicken Sub is at least a foot long and the baguette is fresh and flaky to the point that one must make a concerted effort to eat over the tray provided. Pickled carrots are frolicsome and tangy, though the cilantro would do well to be removed from its stems. Otherwise, one bite removes the entire strand from the 'wich. A smear of zesty mayo would work as easily in Paris as it would in Hanoi. Morsels of chicken burst with their own juices and are clearly not the hyper-uniform chicken slices presented in so many franchised sub sandwiches. Though I cannot comment firsthand on co-diner's spring rolls and Teriyaki chicken sub; both looked quite delicious. Indeed, from humble surrounds, and from east-meets-west culinary traditions, comes a mighty fine sandwich. Sandwich non sequitur.