Asian Fusion at Ten Ten Bistro: The New Bahn Mi

Bagby's Ten Ten Bistro is rolling out some new items for their spring menu. One of the items they announced via their Facebook page is an Asian inspired Bahn Mi sandwich . Made up of Asian pork meatballs, slices of country-style pork pate, cole slaw, spicy aioli, and their own house-made pickles on a crusty roll, it sounded too interesting to not try.

The Bahn Mi sandwich as presented for carry out

Like all their sandwiches, this comes with a side of either a composed salad, house-made potato chips, or fries - regular or drizzled with duck fat. The sandwich itself was so impressively presented that a separate container was needed for my side salad. And this was a stuffed sandwich - three meatballs, two slabs of pate, a generous portion of cole slaw, plus sliced radishes and fresh cilantro inside a roll smeared with aioli orange with sriracha.

I sampled one of the meatballs first. The ground pork had a nice texture that was slightly firm with very little filler and a slightly braised exterior that gave just a little resistance when bitten. Slightly salty with a hint of soy sauce and something earthy, they were moist and tender but not greasy. The pork pate was similarly seasoned and was edged with a thin skin of bacon. Even though the flavors were very similar, the pate provided a variant texture that added interest to the sandwich while retaining a common flavor theme.

Pork meatballs and country-style pate with coarsely cut slaw and radishes

The cole slaw was creamy and coarsely cut into thick ribbons of green and purple cabbage mixed with a slightly sweet mayonnaise. The slaw was topped with equally course cuts of radishes.The bitterness of the radish, even in thick slices, was muted by the sweet slaw that allowed the zingy flavor of this much maligned root to shine through.

The sriracha aioli added a pleasant spiciness that worked well against the salty meat and sweet slaw. And the fresh cilantro provided a bright flavor that helped cut the salt, cleansed the palate and worked well with the more robust flavors showcased by this sandwich.

While the sandwich itself was quite pleasing both in flavor and mouth feel, the roll it was served in appeared to be chosen more for presentation than for anything else. It was light and flavorless and lacked the backbone to carry the weight of the sandwich. It dropped crumbs on my desk and quickly fell apart, even with the sandwich cut in half. This was not Ten Ten's best bread offering. The rolls they use for burgers and crab cakes are better tasting and solid enough to support something like this.

Overall, I remain a fan of the Ten Ten Bistro. They are experimenting with flavors and traditional bistro fare in an informed and artful manner. This fusion-based sandwich is another winner for them. Hopefully they will reconsider that roll. While it made for a beautiful photo, it also required considerable desk cleaning afterward.

Ten Ten Bistro is located in the courtyard of the Bagby Building at 1010 Fleet Street in Baltimore's Harbor East neighborhood. They are open nightly for dinner, weekdays for lunch, and Sundays for brunch.