After David Snyder's glowing review of Q.T. Vietnamese Sandwich in City Paper informed that there was a new banh mi purveyor in town, I knew I had to check it out, since I love all things Asian-flavored, pickled, cilantro-fied, and mayo-ed on a roll. The first visit to Q.T. around 10 pm was a fail, since they're just not open that late!
Then a friend admitted to trekking almost daily to Q.T. for banh mi, because they are just that good! (And, would you look at that! fries with that shake just visited Q.T., too.) So, I tried Q.T. again at a more reasonable hour — noon — and found the small Vietnamese sandwich shop open. Hurray!
Inside you'll find a a short, narrow ledge against one wall with three stools for those who wish to eat in, and a high counter separating you from the very smiley and friendly women who run Q.T. Not being a particularly smiley person myself, I don't fault people who take orders with a straight, stern face, but it is so refreshing and uncommon to have a person who seems genuinely happy to take your order nowadays. And that's exactly how the women of Q.T take your order — with huge smiles on their faces.
Q.T. serves rice and noodle platters, a soup of the day, a few appetizers, and other odds and ends, but I was there for their mainstay — the banh mi. In the vegetarian department there are two banh mis to choose from: tofu sauteed with onions and mushrooms; and lemongrass tofu. I went with the lemongrass tofu banh mi.The ultra-crispy, long, narrow baguette holds thinly sliced, fried tofu with a pleasant hint of lemongrass (it's very easy to go overboard with lemongrass, and I think Q.T. did best by erring on the side of caution); a generous mound of lightly seasoned shredded carrots; a single thick strip of fresh cucumber per sandwich half (would have liked another slice); a single thin strip of jalapeno per sandwich half (would have liked another slice); a single sprig of cilantro per sandwich half (would have liked a whole bunch more), and a generous slathering of mayo.
All in all, Q.T. makes a very tasty lemongrass tofu bahn mi, although some of the ingredients are a little skimpy. I don't think I'd have a problem getting the ladies behind the counter at Q.T. putting a couple more springs of cilantro on my sandwich, though, since I witnessed them happily handing over extra sliced chilies to a couple dining in while I was waiting for my sandwich to be prepared.
And here's their menu...Click to enlarge.
Q.T. Vietnamese Sandwich
48 N. 10th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107