QT: Giving the cheesesteak a run for its money
Ever since I came to the City of Brotherly Love, I kept a lookout for the local Bánh mì, or Vietnamese sandwich, joint. On the other side of the country, we have Lee’s Sandwiches as the king of cheap, filling, and utterly irresistible bánh mì. But where is its East Coast counterpart?
Nicole and I have combed through the streets of Chinatown many times in search of such a location. During one adventure, luckily, we stumbled upon QT. The place itself looked modest, like almost every other restaurant on 10th Street. I confess: I walked in with some inhibitions. Could this place actually live up to the Californian version?
It was lunch time, and we were hungry. Nicole decided to try out the BBQ Pork Sandwich, while I chose the Lemongrass Tofu Sandwich. And here’s where the heaven known as QT begins. We ordered the sandwiches and settled down at a table. We asked for water, and the friendly employees gave us just that—in mugs. Even if they didn’t sell sandwiches here, I would have given them a high rating.
When the sandwiches were ready, the first thing we noticed was the sheer size of the sandwich. HUGE. For $5, the sandwich was enormous; indeed, both Nicole and I survived with rest of the day without additional food. Better yet, the sandwich itself exceeded both of our expectations. The Lemongrass Tofu sandwich blew me away. First off, the colors were amazing—the verdant cilantro popped against the carrot background, and the tofu and bread provided the perfect canvas for the vibrant colors. Take a look! Nicole’s sandwich looked equally as impressive, with a palette of colors and even some BBQ pork along with it. I didn’t even need to taste it to know that it would be delicious. All I had to do was look.
Of course, the best part was actually eating it. In case you didn’t pick up on the tone of this entry, it was heavenly. Perhaps the most impressive part was the bread. It was warm, buttery, and crunchy all at the same time. To me, the bread in the sandwich is just as important as what’s in between. The lemongrass flavor was the star of the flavor profile, as the name suggested. This wasn’t one of those “I can’t taste anything” ordeals—the flavor was definitely there. In a good sense.
Nicole also has some input: “I love how the banh mi is influenced by both French and Vietnamese tastes… QT is delicious! This sandwich was full of texture. The bread was deliciously chewy and buttery, contrasting well with the savory BBQ pork, crunchy carrots and cucumbers, and fragrant spicy peppers. The one thing I didn’t expect on my sandwich was mayonnaise; next time I’ll have to ask for it on the side. The size was well worth the price; I was full for the rest of the day!”
I have to agree with Nicole about the mayonnaise, however. Never before had I put mayo in my bahn mi, and I’m not sure I would ever want to. Next time—and I’m sure there will be a next time—I’ll probably ask them to leave it out.
We quickly devoured the sandwiches and finished our mugs of water. A few regulars were chatting it up with the employees, and I was sure that one day Nicole and I would become regulars as well. Cheesesteaks, beware.