You see a lot of pork belly on Los Angeles restaurant menus. Like everywhere. But if there's one place you should absolutely see the caramelized fatty meat it's in a Vietnamese banh mi.
Dot Saigon, a new banh mi food truck operated by partners Troy Hoang and Ellise Nguyen, is using Nguyen's grandmother's recipe for caramel pork. The meat is chopped into small pieces, marinated and then braised in a secret sauce made with soy sauce and sugar.
It's served in a fresh, crisp and chewy baguette (made by a bakery in Alhambra) with some pate, pickled daikon and carrot, cilantro and sliced jalapeño.
There's also grandma's chicken, made with her recipe for chicken in "house sauce." It's chicken that has been marinated with garlic, fried onion, sugar, soy sauce and some other secret things, fried, slathered in the sauce then cooked again before it's shredded for the sandwich.
There's a Saigoner sandwich, made with traditional silky sausage and ham. And for vegetarians, the Ellen banh mi comes with marinated, fried tofu and mushroom pate.
You can order banh mi with an egg roll (the Vietnamese variety) and a drink for $12, or a banh mi, sweet potato fries and a drink for $13.
They're also making shrimp or tofu spring rolls and bún topped with the caramel pork belly, grandma's chicken or the tofu.
To drink, a Vietnamese coffee or Thai tea. Because when you're standing on a street corner eating a banh mi sandwich, it feels even better if you're sipping a Vietnamese coffee.
Who? Banh mi? Yes. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_