Charles Phan has done something in the last year of The Slanted Door’s closure that none of us knew about – and now he’s announcing he’s set to open his first banh mi store at heart of Mission District.
Rumors swirled last year that Ferry Building anchor The Slanted Door might be in danger of closing permanently – given that most of SF’s other dining establishments have reopened it in some form or another in 2021, while it remained dark. But Phan assured the media he was just taking some time off to do some much-needed remodeling of the nearly 20-year-old space, and in November we got confirmation that Phan had signed a new 10-year lease extension. years at the Ferry Building. , and he said the restaurant would reopen by the summer of 2022 (he’s now pushed that down).
Meanwhile, as Eater reports now, Phan quietly perfected his recipe for light and fluffy French-style banh mi rolls in his Mission police station kitchen, based on his memories of the sandwiches he had decades ago in Vietnam. And in February, he plans to open Chuck’s Takeaway, a new sandwich shop at 3332 18th Street (across from Whiz Burger, near South Van Ness).
There are only sandwiches and iced coffee on the menu, but we all know that San Francisco has a long-standing love affair with many different types of sandwiches, and this place is sure to be a draw for people. Dolores park related crowds and just about everyone.
The offerings include a semi-traditional pork banh mi with two types of sliced charcuterie – an emulsified sausage and a terrine – and hopefully there will also be a pate-covered option (Eater says Phan and Chef Dong Choi are wondering whether to add Poultry Liver Pate). It’s unclear if there will be a roast chicken option like at the Tenderloin’s beloved Saigon Sandwich, but Phan promised a vegetarian banh mi with eggplant, yuba and mushroom pate; and there will be an egg salad sandwich on Japanese milk bread.
The menu always seems to be changing, but a braised beef brisket sandwich is in the works, along with a pork meatball option. And we’re talking about a smoked tuna open sandwich, and possibly a smoked sardine option.
For fans of traditional banh mi – as served at Saigon Sandwich and elsewhere in the city – you might be shocked to find that Chuck’s Takeaway versions won’t be topped with pickled, julienned carrots or other vegetables. Phan prefers these on the side, so the single picture we have to go on shows just meat and cilantro nestled in a fresh french bun.
Banh mi arose from the intersection of French and Vietnamese cuisines, establishing itself as a street food in Saigon in the 1950s, when Vietnam was still shedding a long French occupation and an identity of French Indochina. They evolved as versions of a French sandwich known as snack, which was a ham or charcuterie sandwich on a baguette with pâté and butter. Vietnamese street vendors added the vegetables, which eventually included cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, and daikon, and thus banh mi was born.
Phan tells Eater that he only tasted his first banh mi when he visited Vietnam as an adult in 1992. He was born in Vietnam, but his family moved to Guam and then to Chinatown in SF before the fall of Saigon.
And after years of having inferior examples here in the Bay Area, usually because the bread was all wrong, Phan says he realized, “I have to learn how to make this bread.”
Look for more news on an opening date for Chuck’s Takeaway in the coming weeks.
Chuck’s Takeout – 3332 18th Street near South Van Ness – Opening February 2022
Top image: Google Streetview