Food Stuffs is a column exploring the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything remotely related to food. because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.
There are no shortage of bánh mì spots in Bensonhurst, but few of them have perfected that meat to veggie to bread ratio.
Here’s one place that has the Vietnamese sandwich recipe down pat. Though Liu’s Sweet Tomatoes Bakery (6305 20th Avenue) has been open only four months, it was hard to get a table in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. The small shop that shares a building with the N train’s 20th Avenue station was filled with elderly Asian ladies and high school students who were either cutting class or on their lunch break.
You won’t be able to find an English-speaking waitperson at Sweet Tomatoes, but large, mouthwatering photos on the walls offer some direction on what to order. Since it was my first time at Sweet Tomatoes, I stuck with the standard bánh mì ($3.95), Vietnam’s national sandwich, which combines a slimmed down French baguette with hearty Vietnamese fillings.
The sandwich did not stray from the classic, with thin layers of Vietnamese sausage and salami over well-seasoned ground pork, held together nicely with a vinegar-y sauce that did not overwhelm the dish. For an extra dollar, Lui’s offers the sandwich with thick, grilled slices of pork or chicken.
The bread was soft and slim, and just substantial enough to complement its delicate combination of savory and crunchy fillings. Toppings like cucumbers, sprouts slivered carrot, and ample cilantro lent the sandwich a fresh, bright aftertaste.
The menu also offers an extensive selection of pho (beef noodle soup) for prices ranging between $5 and $7, teas, and plenty of dim sum for less than $3 a piece. The Vietnamese spring rolls are a little pricier at $7.50 for eight rolls.
Overall, Mr. Liu’s bánh mì makes for a delicious, well-rounded, and cheap lunchtime staple. No wonder it’s popular with the high schoolers.
Visit Liu’s Sweet Tomatoes Bakery at 6305 20th Avenue or call 929-245-9664.