This article was originally published in The Inquirer on Dec. 24, 2006.
I was at a birthday party hosted by a Vietnamese family last weekend, and the great Philadelphia food debate, of course, was about where to find the best hoagie.
But they weren't talking about rolls stuffed with salami and provolone.
The South Philly Vietnamese have their own hoagie tradition - most commonly stuffed with creamy pate, Asian "ham" (crunchy slices of head cheese), tangy pickled veggies, and a luscious schmear of old-style mayo (a.k.a. "Vietnamese butter").
My favorite, a pork hoagie, comes from nearby Cafe Huong Lan, where the mayo is homemade, and the delicate, toaster-crisped rolls come from ... Sarcone's Bakery.
Some hoagie essentials, it appears, are universal.