Char-grilled pork has been what has drawn most Houstonians over the years to the wonders of banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwich. Delicious and easily recognizable, as a sandwich filling, it has long been the centerpiece of a ridiculously cheap lunch option for the savvy diner.
The char-grilled pork sandwich, or Banh Mi Thit Nuong ($3.75), at the bare bones Thien An is especially notable. The restaurant is more generous than most with the pork, which is nicely cooked, tender and richly flavorful. Slices are nestled in a local standard short Vietnamese baguette that is properly crusty and airy. The pork is joined by a light smear of house-made mayonnaise, shredded pickled carrots and daikon radish, a slice of cucumber, cilantro leaves and stems, and prominent wedges of jalapeño. The result is an enticing mix of textures and flavors – predominantly the moist and savory pork – that is satiating while remaining vibrant, not heavy. Even better with a few dashes of vinegar and squirts of sriracha from bottles on the table, it can be tough to eat just one of these. This is one of the best versions in the city.
2611 San Jacinto (just south of McGowen), 77004, (713) 522-7007