Where can you find the best sandwiches on earth?
Would you go to Italy for their scrumptious selection of hams and deli meats, or to the United States for gigantic meat and cheese filled subs, or even to Chile for an outstanding churrasco completo?
I'm going to take you on a little culinary journey to SE Asia, land of (mostly) rice and noodles – and a sandwich so good, it's worthy of a pilgrimage.
Ok, I can't claim this is the absolute best sandwich in the world…but I can safely say that it's just about the best thing wrapped in bread that I have ever experienced in my life.
To get to this sandwich of wonders requires a visit to the relaxing country of Laos, and more specifically, to the quiet central town of Savannakhet.
There's not a lot to do in this town, in fact a few hours of walking around and you'll have seen just about everything there is to offer.
About the only reason you'd want to stay longer is to take full advantage of the sandwich that will seduce you.
When I first arrived at the small restaurant in central Savannakhet, all I was after was a cup of stout Vietnamese style iced coffee (they make it the same in Laos – under the order of the French).
But then I observed a table of Laotians ordering food, and when I smelled and saw what came to their table, I had ordered breakfast without even thinking about it.
It didn't take long for the outdoor sidewalk restaurant to be unleashing heavenly aromas into the entire neighborhood.
The sweet perfume of sizzling beef mixed with their secret sauce and ingredients was so overwhelming that I had to sit on my hands to refrain myself from grabbing the cook's food right out of the pan.
It was a true test of patience, waiting that long 5 minutes for my sandwich to arrive. But then it came.
Within just a few moments, I had devoured the entire mini-baguette, without even taking a single photo. Good thing I immediately ordered another one!
This time, though I was still just as excited as before, I was willing to take my time, shoot plenty of food porn photos and do a little dissection to find out what was inside.
It all began with tender slices of choice beef marinated in a sweet soy sauce, sesame seeds, and stalks of green onion. The cook first added the beef to a scorching hot pan, and let the meat cook in its own juices until it was done, but not overcooked.
Slicing open a fresh crusty baguette, she added the beef into the bread. With the beef juices still coating the pan, she cracked an egg and let it fry until it was just barely done, yet still beautifully runny.
The egg was placed on top of the beef along with a few sprinkles of this and that and a generous scoop of chili flakes.
Every bite was an enlightening mouthful of pleasure in its purest form.
If you do make it to Savannakhet, Laos, all you need to remember is that you can find this sandwich right across the street from the tallest building (a bank) in town.
Go in the morning for breakfast.