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The Vistro’s Bánh mì hits all the marks of a traditionally good sandwich: crispy, crunchy bread that’s soft in the middle, the right amount of toppings and a flavorful meat to act as a base — but the Vietnamese flavor profiles are what really send this dish to the next level.
I went traditional for my first time trying this new restaurant and ordered the Bánh mì with pork.
It’s generally one of the harder proteins for a restaurant to cook correctly, at least according to all the cooking shows I incessantly watch. Basically, there’s a very narrow margin of getting the cook time exactly right — just a minute or two can be the difference between over or under cooked meat.
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The pork on this sandwich blew me away. It appeared to be marinated ahead of time because it was tender, juicy and full of flavor. The chunks of pork even had picture-perfect grill marks. Just look at it! You can see the pork glistening!
The sandwich was piled high with all the traditional accoutrements, at least for a Vietnamese sandwich. There was plenty of fresh cucumber, pickled carrots and radish, spring onions, cilantro and jalapeno.
If you’re not one for spice, be warned: this sandwich definitely has some kick to it.
Now, any true sandwich enthusiast knows that bread choice can be make-or-break. Bánh mì’s are traditionally served on a baguette, and this one is no different.
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The bread was perfectly crunchy on the outside, but still soft enough on the inside to sop up the excess juices and flavor from the soy marinated pork and pickled toppings.
By the time it’s all said and done, this sandwich is MASSIVE. It was enough for me to eat for two meals, and it came with a side of crispy tóp mỡ, or Vietnamese-style pork rinds.
The Vistro made the switch from food truck to brick-and-mortar on Tuesday, July 17, when the restaurant opened at 3937 Linden Ave. across from the Eastown Shopping Center in Riverside.
The space previously housed Al-Mandi Restaurant & Cafe, and before that, Antojitos Criollos Puerto Rican restaurant.
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“Bricks and mortar has always been the end-game goal,” The Vistro founder and owner Myger Nguyen told this news outlet in a phone interview.
Myger said he chose the food-truck route initially in early 2017 to take advantage of its low start-up costs and to develop recognition for his brand and the Vietnamese specialties he serves. He intends to keep the food truck operating, and its menu will likely expand because of the increased flexibility the restaurant's kitchen will offer.
If sandwiches aren't your thing, we also tried the Lemongrass Ginger Chicken Egg Rolls, Beef Pho and a Noodle Salad with Chicken and had nothing but praises to sing for each.
Now, I could keep going on the deliciously addictive sauces or the depth of flavor achieved in that pho broth, but that seems like it may just be a different story, for a different time.
Bottom line is that The Vistro knows how to pack a flavor punch in every dish they serve.
WANT TO GO?
What: The Vistro Modern Vietnamese restaurant
Where: 3937 Linden Ave., Riverside
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Closed on Sundays.
More Info: Facebook