Violet’s house special bánh mì with grilled pork, Vietnamese ham, Vietnamese salami.
Friends and neighbors had been telling me about Violet’s Bake Shoppe in Forest Hills for months. First, there was talk of lovely egg tarts and Vietnamese iced coffee. And then, they hit me with the big guns, bánh mì. The Vietnamese sandwich is one of my all-time favorites, so I hightailed it over to Austin Street.
There I found a respectable roster of 10 Vietnamese sandwiches, including a House Special ($6.50), Baked Fish with lemongrass and turmeric ($6.95), and a Pâté Supreme ($6.50). I almost went for the Pâté Supreme, but I’m a bánh mì traditionalist, so I opted for the House Special.
It was quite simply the best old school Vietnamese sandwich I’ve ever eaten in Queens. (I make this qualification out of respect and admiration for the wonderful Elmhurst shop JoJu Modern Vietnamese Sandwiches.) The Vietnamese ham, Vietnamese salami, and crumbled roast pork married well with the demi-baguette daubed with Maggi sauce, and the pickled veggies. Apart from some birds-eye chilies one thing could rocket this sandwich into the bánh mì stratosphere, crisping up the char siu in a toaster oven.
When I asked the folks at Violet’s why their sandwich was good they said, “Oh we have a a Vietnamese lady who makes them.” Over the weekend at LIC Flea & Food’s Mid-Autumn Feastival, I had the good fortune of meeting said lady. “I know you,” the woman sporting a sun hat and a jade necklace said as she built my bánh mì. “You used to come to my shop, Bánh Mì So 1 all the time.”
Kim Nguyen, the one-time Bánh Mì Queen of Broome Street, was of course right. A lifetime ago I worked in an office in Rockefeller Center and at least twice a month I’d zip downtown on the D for one of her sandwiches at Banh Mi So 1. I feel especially lucky to have her in my neighborhood. Next time I’m getting the Pâté Supreme.
Violet’s Bake Shoppe, 72-36 Austin Street, Forest Hills, 718-263-3839