Friday, April 2, 2010

Cafe Nhuy

Friday April 2nd 2010
Café Nhuy, 8th and Christian, Philadelphia, PA

The best thing that I’ve ever bought in my whole life is my van. Old Vanny, a mobile green room who pampers all of her passengers with her luxurious transportation amenities. Aside from just loving that I own it, it’s great because people need it sometimes, like often happens at work. Another shipment of batik skirts and leather cross necklaces will be stuck in a cargo center somewhere and Old Vanny and I will be called upon to save it. These are my best days at work, because I completely ignore the presence of a major interstate system running through the city, and I take the old fashioned way, back roads. On my own time, this would infuriate me. Traffic lights, other people trying to drive near me, but when your on the clock and in your in your car, every day is like Sunday.
Not being in any particular rush to get the goods back to the man, I swung into Café Nhuy for a morning iced coffee and Vietnamese sandwich. Waiting rooms, walk in closets, handicapped bathroom stalls, maybe even cubicles for some of the more important employees are larger than this entire restaurant. As soon as your inside the door, your right up against the counter and whomever’s working is immediately asking you what you want. Mentioning cubicles, the place does sort of have an office decor. There’s a bunch of calendars around, and framed magazine-esque typically beautiful pictures of the Vietnam countryside. Seating isn’t necessarily offered, I suppose you could eat in there, but if anyone else at all came in, even if they were getting something to go, it would be incredibly cramped and uncomfortable the entire time.

To-the-point menu’s are something I’m a big fan of. I went to a place in Kansas City once and the entire menu consisted of two sandwiches. My mind was made up instantly, “I’ll have the chicken salad.” When a place has a several dozen item menu, specializing in about six different culinary fields at once, foods that shouldn’t mix accidentally do in your mind, and suddenly nothing on the entire gigantic menu seems even the slightest bit appetizing. Café Nhuy does not have this problem. Their menu lists six different sandwiches and then coffee at the bottom. It only took a moment to decide.
This was just after 10 AM, so I ordered an iced coffee first. Café Du Monde over ice blended with sweetened condensed milk, tasty, refreshing, invigorating. Being it so early, I wasn’t sure if a hearty meat were the right choice, meatball was definitely out, pork didn’t sound right, chicken either, so I went with the vegetarian. Thick strips of a marinated and seasoned tofu provided a pleasant squish and added a nice soft texture to the crunch of the carrots and radishes. Bringing me to the point where I mention I’m not really sure what all is in these things, aside from the obvious. Every time I eat one of these sandwiches, about halfway through I bite into something insanely spicy and my mouth is numb for the next twenty minutes. Quite the surprise being used to the sandwiches mild flavor and then getting whammed by a spice bomb someone hid in the center. I guess I like it enough though. And sometimes I detect the presence of a spread of sorts, perhaps a pate.
At an average price of $3.50, Vietnamese sandwiches are an affordable light meal, and a different mix of flavors than usually found in a loaf of French bread. I saved the last bite, keeping it wrapped up in the van while I worked and enjoyed it (briefly) on the ride home. A good choice.

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