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Restaurant Fri Jun 08 2007

Tasty Colonialism

IMG_5181_copy.jpgThe Nhu Lan Bakery (2612 W. Lawrence) opened just off Lincoln Square this winter. The Vietnamese shop specializes in an inexpensive sandwich called the Bhan Mi—a product of the culinary collision that evolved during France’s fifty-odd year colonization of southeast Asia. Fresh baked demi baguettes are filled with a distinctly Asian mix of pickled vegetables, a touch of tangy fish sauce, and a variety of meats like fried pork, ham and baked chicken. There’s even a vegetarian option, though, it’s reportedly the weakest offering of the bunch. While the subs are fresh, healthy and extremely tasty, ours looked a bit wan, and could have stood some plumping. I’m not talking a Potbelly’s greasy meat explosion, just a bit more of the excellent ingredients; enough so they can compete with the bread, at least.

(Continued below the fold.)

IMG_5178.1.JPGNhu Lan also sells a plethora of side dishes and drinks that you won’t find at too many shops around town… and won’t find done quite as well anywhere. Traditional dumplings and rice dishes are offered alongside several varieties of homemade “smoothies” and other drink concoctions. Many are marked as to the ingredients, but some aren’t. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. There are some delightful surprises and the friendly prices encourage experimentation.

In addition, there are plenty of baked goods—running the gamut from the more typical danish-like items, to the more exotic, like the sweet mung bean and sesame seed rolls. And I should mention it would be a crime not to try the Vietnamese spring rolls. These delicate and delicious treats consist of a handful of simple ingredients wrapped in rice paper and are eaten with a slightly fishy peanut sauce. Many Asian restaurants attempt spring rolls in this style, none get it quite right. Nhu Lan gets it perfect. Their subs are delightful, but the spring rolls are what will keep me haunting the place like an ex-junkie haunts a methadone clinic.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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