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[Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

You'll come to appreciate the occasional hits of candied kumquat tucked into the Frenchman bánh mi ($9) from Saigon Sisters. The honeyed, caramelized, citrusy pop becomes a welcome counterpunch to the jalapeño-induced heat that the Frenchman brings. Don't get me wrong, I love heat, which is why this sandwich is right up my alley. A little swig of cooling nectar here and there just helps me savor more of the fire.

Let's back up and review what else makes up the Frenchman, one of my favorite Vietnamese sandwiches from the Saigon Sisters stand in the French Market (it's also available at lunch at the sit-down restaurant on Lake Street). In addition to the standard cilantro, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, and our friend the jalapeño, the Frenchman also packs duck confit, pickled mustard seeds, the candied kumquat and rouille—an aioli-like Provençal sauce made with saffron. That may sound like a lot for one humble French roll to handle, but it all works. Heat balanced by sweet. Fat cut by acid. And the duck is delicious—rich, juicy and tender. Yes, it does get a little greasy, but that's what napkins are for.

Saigon Sisters

131 North Clinton Street, Chicago, IL 60606 (map)
312-496-0094
saigonsisters.com

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