During my hunt for the best bánh mì in Chicago, I was hoping to uncover at least one undiscovered restaurant that served the greatest Vietnamese sandwich ever made by man. That didn't happen, and the list featured the usual suspects at the top. Delicious suspects, mind you, but no big shockers. (If you missed the article, Ba Le took the top prize.) What was surprising was how many solid contenders there were.
High on that list (actually at number four) was Lakeview's Bun Mi Express. I only included the restaurant because it was on Steve Dolinsky's list of best bánh mì sandwiches, but I'm so glad I did. Like all great versions of the Vietnamese sandwich, the Saigon Classic Special ($4.85) is carefully proportioned. The bread is crackly and airy, so that it holds the ingredients without getting in the way. There's a great balance of pickled vegetables to meat, so the pleasing funk of the headcheese gets cut by the acidic carrots. Sure, I wish those vegetables were a little crunchier, but that's a small criticism for such a satisfying sandwich.
Bun Mi Express
3409 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657 (map)