photo credit: Jack X Li

Nhu Lan review image

Nhu Lan Bakery


2612 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago
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The first thing to note about Nhu Lan Bakery is that this Lincoln Square spot is small. Just a tiny space to walk up and place your order, surrounded by coolers full of Vietnamese desserts, drinks, and grab-and-go food waiting to be picked up like kids after a soccer game. The next thing is the warm smell of freshly baked baguettes. Like a siren’s song (minus being dragged into the depths of the ocean to your watery grave), they’re irresistibly seductive, begging you to order one of their Vietnamese sandwiches.

And you absolutely should because Nhu Lan has the best bánh mì in the city.

Nhu Lan review image

photo credit: Jack X Li

The fresh baguettes give each sandwich a crackly crust, surrounding a soft inside that absorbs the multiple flavors of each sandwich’s fillings. There’s a roster stacked with 20 different bánh mìs, from lemongrass chicken, to BBQ pork, to sardines in tomato sauce, to even a handful of vegan-friendly tofu options. But the MVPs are the Nhu Lan Special which comes with a salty ham and fatty head cheese or the sweet roast pork—both of which cost only $10 so you won’t have to cancel your Netflix membership in order to eat here.

The other dishes like the pho, BBQ buns, and spring rolls are decent, but they aren’t what gives this place its gravitational pull. It's the bánh mì, whose siren's call we'd gladly answer any day of the week.

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Food Rundown

Nhu Lan review image

photo credit: Jack X Li

Nhu Lan Special Bánh Mì

This bánh mì comes with a meaty and fatty combination of ham and head cheese, loaded into an airy housemade baguette and topped with mayo, pate, pickled vegetables, cucumber, and jalapeno. It results in each bite having a complex combination of sweet, salty, spicy, and tart that caused us to let out at least five “wows” before finishing this sandwich.

Nhu Lan review image

photo credit: Jack X Li

Roasted Pork Bánh Mì

The roast pork bánh mì comes with all the same fixings as the Nhu Lan Special, but the ham and head cheese are replaced by sweet chunks of pork. The outside of the meat is crispy while the inside is juicy and tender.. This too will result in multiple “wows”. And since we can never decide between this or the Special, we always just end up getting both.

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