Banh Town in North Seattle: Vietnamese Street Food Served with a Smile

It pays to drive the carpool. It can be deliciously rewarding in many ways.

Twice a week I drive my son and his buddy over to evening lacrosse practice. En route, I get the scoop on everything from the Spanish curriculum at a local middle school to the boys’ recap on last week’s game.

Recently, one of our carpool conversations circled around food. We were talking about my son James’s favorite teriyaki joint in the neighborhood and our 14-year-old car pool passenger quickly chimed in with HIS favorite joint in the area…Banh Town.

Banh Town: Vietnamese Street Food. Banh Mi. Pho. Happiness

I was immediately intrigued by his suggestion because the place had been on my list for about two years…Will quickly gave me a recap on their pho and their sandwich selection. Sighing in the back seat, he told me their vermicelli salad was “the best.”  I think Will was in fact making a mental note to get back there sooner rather than later.

I made a similar note and this week when my husband and I wanted something light, fresh and different for lunch, I suggested Banh Town. We were soon out the door and on our way to this small, bright and cheerful little family owned and operated Vietnamese restaurant. Located at the busy intersection of Greenwood Avenue North and Holman Road and sitting right behind a Jiffy Lube, Banh Town is a treasure. The interior is bright and the walls are decorated with large  colorful photographs of Vietnam.

 

Vermicelli Salad.JPGChauanh, was our server and she is also one of the owners. Service with a smile seems to be the mantra at Banh Town and we were quickly briefed on the menu which includes an array of banh mi, pho, vermicelli salads and a variety of starters. Although I’ve been making a lot of pho during this wet and rainy Seattle winter we’ve been having, I opted to celebrate the sunshine yesterday and ordered the chicken vermicelli salad ($9.95). My husband had the five spice chicken banh mi ($6.95) and we shared two spring rolls ($7) and an order of quail’s egg poppers ($7), which were a family recipe from Grandma Le. ( I think Grandma Le might be Chauanh’s maternal grandma. We were told she is a great cook and she is cited as the recipe creator on a few of the flagship items on the menu so take note!)

Bahn MiThe banh mi arrived with a side of sesame slaw and the sandwich was light and beautifully done with a crispy airy French roll and lots of fresh cilantro. My salad was full of flavor and the skewered chicken was grilled to the perfect degree. Perched on top of cold vermicelli noodles and a cucumber lettuce combo, the chicken added a nice protein punch to the light and satisfying entrée. The quail’s egg  poppers were crispy on the  outside and the interior was subtle and comforting.

The bill was reasonable by Seattle standards and totaled less $40 with tax and tip. The restaurant  is now open seven days a week and offers takeout and delivery via Doordash and Postmates.

The restaurant’s logo touts: Banh Town: Vietnamese Street Food. Banh Mi. Pho. Happiness.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

 

 

 

Super Simple Salsa–Better than Store Bought

S

Let’s talk about salsa. Of course, there are endless options on the market these days…jarred, canned, fresh and refrigerated.

Deliciously versatile and a staple in most households, salsa can quickly and easily be made at home. I started making my own many years ago.  Admittedly, I don’t always make it from scratch but when I do, it’s far superior to any that I can purchase on the market. I developed this super simple salsa when my children were very little. Back then their peewee taste buds were purer  and more sensitive. They didn’t always like the harsh and fiery salsas being sold. Rather than skip the salsa all together, I developed this basic version, which allowed me to leave the hot peppers out of the picture while at the same time allowing me to sneak tomatoes and corn (precious nutritional commodities aka vegetables!) into my children’s diets.

I also love this recipe because it can be quickly and easily made in my Cuisinart mini chopper or food processor. Using only a few basic ingredients and lots of fresh coriander, this refreshing and bright salsa is great with tortilla chips, in burritos and cheesy quesadillas or dolloped on top of a fish taco or grilled salmon.

Salsa

Missy’s Super Simple Salsa

1 large garlic clove
1/4 small red onion
10 fresh coriander sprigs, leaves and stems included
one 28-can Fire-Roasted Muir Glen diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup fresh or defrosted corn
With the metal blade in place and the motor running, drop the garlic clove into the food processor, letting it bounce around and get diced. Add the red onion and coriander sprigs through the feed tube and pulse the mixture seven or eight times.

Drain about half the liquid from the tomatoes and add the tomatoes to the work bowl with the olive oil, the cumin and a little salt and pepper to taste.

Pulse the motor again about seven or eight times. (Note: Do not let the machine run continuously because this would puree the mixture and prevent your salsa from being characteristically chunky. )

Season the salsa taste with additional seasonings if necessary. Add the corn and pulse once or twice to mix.

Makes about 3 cups.