In between shifts on the smoker at his Lucky Well restaurant in downtown Ambler, Chad Rosenthal has been picking up kudos for his banh mi.
Everyone, it seems, is riffing on the Vietnamese hoagies, which started gaining a local following about a decade ago. They scream "Philly." They're built on sturdy rolls, just as cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches are.
But they're lighter than the usual Philly sandwich. The proteins are not dripping in oil and cheese. Rather, beef, pork, chicken, or tofu are grilled and commingle with vegetables - pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno, and some sort of spread - generally a quick swipe of mayo or chicken liver pate.
The better shops use crispier rolls, on the order of a baguette, since the sandwiches are not being forced to keep a half-pound or more of molten cheese and beef from exploding into your lap.
It's a little building just off Easton Road and south of Susquehanna Road, behind the Roslyn SEPTA station. Order at the window and either take your food to go or eat at one of a few tables outside.
Menu is studded with as many puns as Rosenthal and his minions could think of. How about a Bánhie & Clyde? Or a Simon Le Bánh? Or - heh heh - a Craig LeBánh, a slight misspelling of the Inquirer restaurant critic's name. (He's taking it in good fun.)
Sandwiches ($9.25) are built on scooped-out baguettes from South Philadelphia's Artisan Boulanger Patisserie.