The Austin Chronicle

Lulu B's Vietnamese Sandwiches

By Kate Thornberry, March 28, 2008, Food

2113 S. Lamar, 921-4828
Tuesday-Friday, 11:30am-6pm; Saturday, 11:30am-6:30pm  

Located in a brand-new trailer under spreading live oaks, Lulu B's is an absolute godsend to South Austin. Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì thit) are addictive, savory, and utterly unique. While it's hard to be a fan of colonialism in any form, the French colonization of Vietnam in the late 19th century resulted in a marvelous fusion of French cooking techniques and ingredients with those of Indochina. Vietnamese sandwiches are a sublime example of this singular cultural collision.

Marinated pork, chicken, or firm tofu is ensconced on a soft French baguette, nestled under a traditional Vietnamese garnish of daikon, carrot, cucumber, cilantro, and chile. The combination of flavors is unforgettable. Austinites who seek these sandwiches usually must go to far North Lamar to get them, if not farther.

"I couldn't find Vietnamese sandwiches when I moved here from California," explains Laura Bayer, who operates Lulu B's with her sister, Christina Gustavson. "Our mother, Thao Gustavson, has a lot of great Vietnamese recipes under her belt. With her help, we started playing around with recipes, and Lulu B's is the result!"

In addition to the sandwiches ($4), Lulu B's offers vermicelli bowls ($5.75), summer rolls ($3), smoothies ($3.50), and superb bubble tea ($3). Vietnamese coffee, another happy accident of colonialism, made with sweetened condensed milk brought from the West, is served hot or over ice ($2.50).

Everything is always fresh and clean at Lulu B's, and unlike many other food trailers, they keep their hours no matter the weather.

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