Back Door Bánh Mí sandwiches with slow-roasted pork.
Back Door Bánh Mí sandwiches with slow-roasted pork.
(Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Full Steam Dumpling chef launches Back Door Bánh Mí

Chef Andy Huynh of Santa Cruz dumpling and ramen shop Full Steam Dumpling has launched Back Door Bánh Mí, a pop-up that specializes in Vietnamese bánh mí sandwiches. He says he hopes to eventually open a brick-and-mortar location.

Not many chefs can make me wait in line for a sandwich for half an hour on a Sunday morning with two small children, but Andy Huynh can. Huynh is the creator of Full Steam Dumpling, a dumpling and ramen shop that has permanent residency inside the Santa Cruz Art Lounge in downtown Santa Cruz, where he sells a rotating menu of exciting, seasonal takes on Sichuan, Chinese and Japanese-inspired dishes. With hand-wrapped dumplings and loaded, layered soups, Full Steam is simultaneously the best dumpling spot and the best ramen spot in town.

So when I found out that Huynh started Back Door Bánh Mí, a pop-up that specializes in Vietnamese bánh mí sandwiches, I brought my whole famíly to the event at the Live Oak farmers market. At this pop-up, Huynh collaborated with farmer Ryan Abelson of Pajaro Pastures, so the sandwiches ($14) were stuffed with pork from one of Abelson’s heritage pigs that the duo brined and slow-roasted themselves. A fat bolillo roll barely contained the sweet, smoky pork; crunchy slices of cucumber and jalapeno; a tangy slaw of pickled carrots and daikon; a smear of creamy house-made pâté and a handful of cilantro. It was absolutely worth the wait.

If you want to try it for yourself, the next pop-up is Friday at the Grove Café in Felton. This time, Huynh is partnering with chef Jessica Yarr, who will add a menu of Vietnamese pastries.

Expect to see more Back Door Bánh Mí pop-ups and collaborations in the coming months and at a stall at the downtown Santa Cruz farmers market on Wednesdays starting in September. The rotating menu will always include a meat-filled bánh mí, a vegetarian bánh mí with deep-fried oyster mushrooms from Far West Fungi, as well as egg rolls and a salad.

Huynh’s goal is to open Back Door Bánh Mí in a brick-and-mortar space. “It would be a Vietnamese café and pho shop, kind of like how Full Steam is a dumpling and ramen shop,” says Huynh. “I’m Vietnamese, and this is the food I grew up eating. It’s the food that speaks to me the most.”

Back Door Bánh Mí is on Instagram at @backdoorbanhmi.