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Nashville Is An Elite Food Town

There are two things that seem like prerequisites when writing about Nashville cuisine...

  1. Barbecue
  2. Nashville Hot Chicken

I am writing about neither of those today because I haven't been blown away by their BBQ and I don't like Nashville Hot Chicken.

Give me a traditional fried chicken sandwich with a quick dunk in Buffalo sauce before you give me the Nashville version any day of the week.  Or if you're in Nashville, hit Peg Leg Porker for their wings which they smoke, then deep-fry, then hit with either a rub or sauce... Arguably the best wings I have ever had, and they're smack dab in the middle of a town that is obsessed with smearing their chicken with a cayenne-heavy paste before frying and then dipping into a spicy oil. 

Instead of talking about those 2 Nashville staples, I went a little off the beaten path to East Nashville and had a different blog-worthy meal… A banh mi I destroyed at a small joint called East Side Banh Mi.

The place had a generic feel when I walked in… Exposed ductwork and painted concrete walls.  But I wasn't there for the ambiance, I was there for a sandwich… Maybe two.

Actually… Definitely two.  I ordered their #1 which closely resembled a traditional banh mi and I also ordered one of their pork banh mi because the description said it contained "Roasted Black Pepper-Caramel Pork Shoulder".

And although I was labeled a racist once by Business Insider, I love every word in the phrase Roasted… Black… Pepper… Caramel… Pork… and Shoulder.

All of their sandwiches are served on an extraordinary house-made baguette with fried shallot mayo, pickled veggies, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeños, and something called Maggi.

For the uninitiated, Maggi is a seasoning sauce made by a process similar to soy sauce, except with fermented wheat protein, so it has a deep, rich, and salty savoriness that cannot come from regular old salt and pepper. 

The best way to describe its actual flavor is “roasty”… Or it tastes like “meaty” soy. 

And I will make a small left turn here and point out that "meaty" is an underused adjective that almost always has positive connotations. 

Even though Pride Month is firmly in the rear-view, I’ll use this example: 

If you say someone’s cock is long, it raises the question- “Yeah, but it is thick?”

Conversely, if you say someone’s cock is thick, it raises the question of length. 

However, when you refer to someone’s cock as meaty, it’s assumed that member has it all: length, width, proper vein placement, good-sized balls, and a taste… Well, a taste that might resemble Maggi.

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But back to the sandwiches…

The #1 was aptly named because it was the best banh mi I have ever eaten.

There is a jewelry store in Chinatown (or at least there was) that sold banh mi out of a small counter in the back.  You would have to walk through the jewelry store flanked by glass display cases filled with jade trinkets before you ordered your meal.  The sandwich they served was what the kids nowadays would refer to as "mid", but similar to Rao's, having a banh mi from a jewelry store in the middle of Chinatown was more of an experience than a meal.

The sandwich at East Side is anything but "mid" and every component of the 2 sandwiches I tried was sourced and served to bring a painstakingly accurate version of what the sandwich should be.

They served them with two different homemade hot sauces… One was a red sambal-esque chili sauce and the other was what they call a "green sriracha"… Think salsa verde made without tomatillos but a shit-ton of serrano peppers.

The green one wasn't mild… Unless you compare it to the red, which ripped my asshole apart later that evening.

I could show a bunch more pictures of the sandwiches themselves, but my iPhone didn't really do them justice, so I will simply end by saying that if you go to Nashville, maybe visit the new Barstool Bar… It's a half-block off of Broadway and is arguably the best bar we own.  But DEFINITELY get to East Side to see some of the shit they are doing with Vietnamese sandwiches.

And save that Nashville Hot Chicken garbage for KFC.

Giphy Images.

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Take a report.

-Large


If you rather have an all-American sandwich, the Sandwich of the Month I made just over on TikTok is an all-timer…

TAR

-L