For this week’s review, I went to two new casual Vietnamese spots in the East Village. The first, Sao Mai, offers your standard — though fresh and flavorful — selection of Viet fare, including pho, bun, and grilled meat dishes. The other, Xe May Sandwich Shop, specializes in banh mi, but also offers something I’d never encountered before: the banh mi taco.
Yes, you read that correctly. It seems like it was just yesterday that the Vietnamese sandwich craze hit this city. But then around 2010, the new Asian-food craze was the Korean taco, popularized by spots like Korilla and Kimchi Taco. And now we’ve got what’s the apotheosis of culinary trendiness. In truth, these Mexicamese snacks don’t work nearly as well as the sandwiches, mostly because the fillings are too dry for the corn tortillas. Eating them, I wanted something saucier, messy, and dripping. Nevertheless, this foodstuff offers an interesting glimpse into the fluidity among cuisines nowadays and the warp speed at which culinary fads evolve. And it’s likely only the beginning as we have greater access to international ingredients. Who knows what’s next.