Nhu Lan BakeryAddress: 2612 Lawrence Avenue
If seeing the phrase “banh mi” doesn’t make you salivate like Pavlov’s dog, then stop by Lincoln Square bakery Nhu Lan for one of its renowned sandwiches. You too will soon be addicted.
The foundation of a great sandwich is the bread, and Nhu Lan cranks out hundreds of baguettes—called banh mi—daily that are crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. Instead of tomato and lettuce, the efficient crew behind the counter top off each sandwich with sliced cucumbers, shaved carrots, daikon radishes, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers. Talk about eating fresh!
Those of you who are more adventurous can dive into the “special” which includes ham, headcheese, pate, and pork rolls—or you can ease into things with the lemongrass pork. Nhu Lan specializes in pork, but it does serve chicken and three vegetarian options: lemongrass, regular, or ginger tofue, which seemed more like seitan. Sandwiches range from $3 to $4, and if you buy five, you get the sixth one free. It’s a great way to feed a family or just pack a week’s worth of lunches.
In addition to the sandwiches, Nhu Lan offers several prepared foods (most under $5) including spring rolls (vegetarian, shrimp, and combo), steamed buns, desserts, and fruit-filled smoothies and bubble teas ($3.25). Beverages also run the gamut from mango to middle-school science experiment. I’m working up the courage to try the mung bean-coconut smoothie.
And don’t forget that Nhu Lan is an actual bakery, so baguettes (three for $1) and assorted croissants are also available in small quantities. Seating is very limited, and parking is hard to find. But now that the weather is nice, you can stop by Nhu Lan to prepare for a picnic.