Having lived in Oslo for pushing on fifteen years, the local options for Banh Mi have been either non-existent or critically ill-executed. It was time to put Banh Mi Cousins to the test, although both the facade and location gave me serious pause.
Service was rendered by a rather cheery lady who took my order and set about assembling the sandwich as I gazed out the window at the army of heroin zombies drifting past in slow motion. Surely there isn't a downtown in any country on earth with such abandoned vistas on display?
The Banh Mi was eaten outside in the privacy of fresh air. Opening the wrapper I noticed already the proliferation of hoisin sauce staining my hopes. I'll gladly have a tight squeeze of said sauce on a freshly made article, but sodden infections are something I steer clear of. Upon closer inspection, the residue of iceberg lettuce squeezed in between stewed beef and cucumbers gave raise to doubts.
The first few bites were a tangle of disappointment. Pervading all and sundry was the taste of sweet hoisin, a flavour that should be like a bass player, there but not in your face. As I expected, this would be a lure to tempt newcomers into the cult of the hip snack, but would ultimately be leading them astray into the oceans of inauthenticity.
Though I crave Banh Mi on a weekly basis, a year has passed since I visited and I haven't returned. That speaks volumes...
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored by the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"