- Gwynedd Stuart
- So not a five-dollar footlong
Chicago newcomer and blogger Gwynedd Stuart loves to eat out, but she also happens to be a poor person because she’s a Chicago newcomer and a blogger. In this weekly feature she seeks out affordable midday meals that don’t exceed five bucks (*actually seven, with tax and tip).
When I tell people I write a feature about five-dollar lunches, a dining suggestion I often get—one that never ceases to be funny—is the five-dollar footlong at Subway. (I don’t have anything against Subway. In fact, I think it might actually take some effort on their part to create meat products that taste like nothing.)
But I took a cue from the tongue-in-cheek suggestion. I sought out subs that are cheap and also taste like things, which made me think Vietnamese banh mi. And then thoughts of banh mi eventually led me to Nhu Lan Bakery on Lawrence. Not a great story, but one with a happy ending.
I should admit that I’m a relative banh mi neophyte, which I’m sure contributed to the awe by which I was struck upon discovering how goddamn cheap these sandwiches are. The most expensive banh mi on Nhu Lan’s menu is the sugarcane shrimp and pork at $4.25. Most of the others are $3.50, and a few are as cheap as $2.95, if you’re into headcheese (I am not, but I’m working on it). And banh mi-ophyte (sorry) or not, I can assume that like any other sub, the quality of the bread is as important as the quality of what’s inside it.
If I didn’t have lots of other things to do, I would write poems about Nhu Lan’s bread.