The inimitable, mononymed Lê, who owns the Chinatown bar Hop Sing Laundromat, has been working on a banh mi shop for a couple of years.
Though Lê calls himself North Korean for a long-running shtick, he is in fact Vietnamese and fiercely proud of his hometown Saigon-style Viet “hoagies,” which he says are being corrupted in the wild in the United States.
He is in the final menu-tasting phase for his own banh mi project, whose name and location are being kept under wraps. (One wag online suggested “Banh Lê.”)
The bread is as crusty as he is. He had a baker create two loaves (a lighter one for the ham and pork varieties and a thicker one for the saucier chicken), and he and a chef went to work uncompromisingly on every ingredient: ham, headcheese, patê, garlic aioli, etc.
They use spicy Chinese coriander and chili peppers — no sriracha because that is an American invention.
He also wants to keep the price of the three sandwiches (that’s it) around $5. Expect a spring opening near Reading Terminal Market.