Which Banh Mi Reigns Supreme?
If you haven't already been to Bluewater, check them out soon. They're Chew Crew approved and one of Everett's crown jewels, so I'm grateful and thrilled that they agreed to join the party. Everything they make is fresh and flavorful, and their space at the marina is inviting and fun. Consider hosting your next event in their lounge or partner with their Voyaging Bar for unique cocktail service anywhere.
Enough vegetarians came this year to set up a tofu side contest with all contenders except Pho To Liem, which doesn't offer a tofu banh mi.
Voting was simpler this year: pick your favorite sandwich, write down any feedback you'd like to share. Here's how it went:
Judges noticed the distinct possibility that most Vietnamese restaurants in Everett use the same vendor for their bread. Sweet N Short's bun is a little smaller than the other baguettes, and while more judges liked it, everyone said the bread was soft. Some said too soft. They loved the marinade and pickled vegetables.
If the rest of the contenders share the same bread as judges suspected, preparation is key. Six judges called out the bread and meat at White Lotus as too dry, and many said it needed more filling. Garret also gave the chicken banh mi one thumb up out of two when we visited for Live in Everett TV #109, so my advice is to explore and enjoy the rest of their menu.
People liked the bread from Pho on Broadway, but much like when you read about them online, reviews were all over the place. They're the only Vietnamese restaurant north of Hewitt and have developed a loyal following in their interesting space. There's even a drive-thru window you can use if you call ahead!
Pho To Liem stood out because its meat was very smoky and flavorful. I loved it, but also thought there could be more mayo and pickled vegetables. It inspired the longest comment of the night, by a judge who thought the meat tasted like Burger King and that the veggies and mayo tasted like potato salad when combined. Sounds like they got more of the toppings than I did.
The meat from Pho Mai Noodles divided my house. I thought they overdid it with the five spice, which made it taste like my own subpar attempts at making banh mi. Garrett loved that about it though, and wrote "floral notes" on his scoresheet, though as scorekeeper he didn't add his favorite to the tally.
Judge Christa Porter wrote about Janbo Cafe, "I picked (sandwich) A but started with A. There is a proverb: To the hungry man, even what is bitter tastes sweet. Was A favorite because I was hungriest?" A few other people wondered the same thing, but sandwich order can't account for Janbo's runaway victory. A few people found their bread a little dry but otherwise it was very well-received.
Unknowingly, Janbo nearly didn't make it into the competition. They began a kitchen renovation on March 15, and didn't reopen until March 30.
Clearly, they're happy to be cooking again.
Their love of food shines through when you take a blissful bite of their banh mi. Those sandwiches earned them more votes than all the other contenders combined in both the pork and tofu contests!
As the party wound down, I drew names for prizes and reminded everyone to grab a swag bag on their way out. Many thanks to the businesses and artists who donated prizes and swag: City Radiator and Automotive, Port Gardner Bay Winery, (original Banh Meetup winner!) Pho 36, Bluewater Organic Distilling, Mellzah, Elizabeth Person and Rosemary Jones.
I definitely couldn't get our house party-ready without my husband Garrett. I appreciate him and all the judges for making Banh Meetup II possible, and can't wait to do it again next year. Was your favorite banh mi in Everett included in the first two Banh Meetups? If not, let us know who makes it and we might include it next year.
In case you never caught it, here’s the video from the first Banh Meetup:
Christopher Bragg works from home in Everett and loves walking, swimming, and cats. You can find him all over town, but only if you keep weird hours and avoid crowds like he does.