Is bánh mì destined to be Austin's newest food obsession?
Remember how ramen was the hot trend last year, with lines out the door at all the new ramen shops and heated discussions about where to get the best versions? This year's emerging local culinary trend appears to be bánh mì. Aficionados have long recognized Tâm Deli (8222 N. Lamar Ste. 33-D) as the go-to purveyor of the French-inspired Vietnamese sandwiches, and the Lulu B's trailer (2113 S. Lamar) in South Austin has a loyal following, as well. In fact, there are now more than 10 spots around town offering versions of bánh mì, with two more high-profile vendors slated to open this summer. After extensive research in Vietnam, the Pluckers Wing Bar team will open Dang Bánh Mì (9070 Research Ste. 201-C) in July with sandwiches based on a 100-year-old recipe they've imported from the Bánh Mì Phuong street stand in Hôi An. The menu will also include other Vietnamese dishes, as well as a house version of sriracha, called Dang sauce. Also coming soon is Bun Belly (5001 Airport), another Asian eatery from the husband-and-wife team of Quang Vuong and Kim Thai of the local Pho Thaison chain. Bun Belly will offer bánh mì and buns when it opens in the former Your Mom's Burger Bar space later this summer.
No sooner had I fallen in love with High Brew cold-brewed coffee in cans than I'm advised about two more hot new trends on the cold brew coffee front. Austin's own Cuvée Coffee has been promoting their Black & Blue cold brew in kegs for a few months now. Look for the lightly nitrogenated cold brew on tap at Bee Cave Coffee Co., all the metro-area Verts Kebap outlets, and at Whole Foods Markets, as well as retailers around the state. Coffee roasted by Cuvée is also the base for Coffer, described in press materials as the "world's first naturally carbonated cold brew coffee." Glass bottles of the the locally produced coffee beverage debuted at both Houndstooth Coffee locations (4200 N. Lamar #120; 401 Congress Ste. 100-C) earlier this week. Both beverages are smooth and not bitter, but neither is quite sweet enough to get me hooked.
Now a lightning round of local food news: Look for select products from Stephanie McClenny's Confituras to begin showing up in Whole Foods Markets in the fall... When the new Fork & Vine (3010 Anderson Ln.) opens this fall, Chris Howell will be their sommelier... Chinatown Westlake (2712 Bee Cave Rd. #124) has hired a new executive sushi chef, Jorge Garcia, formerly of the Morimoto Waikiki in Honolulu. Go check out his creations at the bar and order from the new happy hour menu at the same time... Chef Josh Watkins is no longer executive chef at the Carillon at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center. No word yet on who will replace Watkins or on his next position. We'll keep you posted.