Ky Duyen Cafe serves generous portions of traditional Vietnamese cuisine – The Daily Orange

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Banh mi thit is a meat-filled sandwich on a single-serve baguette. Ky Duyen Cafe offers five versions of these sandwiches, which ordered mild, medium or hot.
Ky Duyen Cafe, a Vietnamese-style restaurant, serves up a variety of traditional sandwiches out of a red streetcar cafe placed inside the building.
You walk into the cafe from one of two doors, lined with potted plants. To the right-hand side of the room is an assortment of seating and a large flat screen TV. There is also a large disco light in the ceiling.
To the center is the cafe where you can order the authentic Vietnamese sandwiches, called banh mi thit.
Banh mi thit is a meat-filled sandwich on a single-serve baguette that became a popular Vietnamese meal during the colonial French era. Ky Duyen Cafe offers five versions of these sandwiches, all $5, and they can be ordered mild, medium or hot. They also offer vegetarian sandwiches, but the menu did not specify what these contain.
I ordered the three most popular ones. The standard banh mi thit, which is filled with grilled pork, Vietnamese sausage, mayonnaise, ground pork paste, pickled carrot-daikon, cucumber and cilantro.
The banh mi thit nguoi was made with cold meat, Vietnamese sausage, mayonnaise, ground pork paste, pickled carrot-daikon, cucumber and cilantro.
The banh mi nem nuong was made with barbeque pork, mayonnaise, ground pork paste, picked carrot-daikon, cucumber and cilantro. The sandwiches were huge; the bread was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside — a perfect baguette. It was just a little difficult, due to the size, to fit into your mouth in one bite. The cilantro and cucumber combination was really fresh and the pickled carrot added a nice crunch that paired well with the bread.
The banh mi nem nuong was my favorite, since the barbeque pork added a really nice smoky sweetness to the sandwich. But the meat, while generously served, looked a little questionable. As long as you didn’t overthink it, the meat tasted good, and it fortunately did not leave my tummy feeling unsettled.
While ordering, I also noticed a lady eating a noodle soup and I inquired about it. I was told it was pho soup, and although not on the menu, is always available for $9.
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup with a simple broth filled with rice noodles, herbs and meat. Like the sandwiches, my soup bowl was huge. It also contained spring onions, regular onions, mint and bean sprouts, Vietnamese sausage and some meatballs.
I was told the meat should arrive slightly undercooked with the idea that it will continue cooking in the broth. If you like your meat medium to well done, you should push it to the bottom of the dish.
Due to the simple flavor of the soup it is common to add both hot and hoisin sauce. Chopsticks are used to pull the noodles from the soup. They come out in a long trail and you place the spoon below the noodles gathering them up. You bring the entire thing near the surface of the soup, eat them from the chopsticks and use the spoon to catch any loose ends. Apparently an advanced soup eater can do this without the aid of a spoon, but I needed the spoon. It was warm, filling and satisfying — a delicious bowl of comfort.
I don’t know if I would ever make a point to go back specifically for the quality or taste of the food. But if you ever find yourself hungry in the area, it is a colorful, balanced and generous meal for your money.
Published on April 19, 2015 at 8:15 pm
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