The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: Vu Noodles

#6: Bánh Mì – Vu Noodles

The Bánh Mì

Julie Vu Whitaker’s cooking is like magic. Though her menu at Vu Noodles is almost fully vegetarian (a fish sauce option is the one exception), she is capable of converting even the most skeptical carnivore, with umami-rich ingredients to ensure that meat-lovers won’t miss a thing.

Among the most improbable tricks she pulls off is a vegan bánh mì. While the famous Vietnamese sandwich typically relies on brawny ingredients like pâté and grilled meats, Whitaker’s version steers clear of animal products altogether. First, she toasts a hoagie roll to give the sandwich its signature crunchy exterior. Atop that she piles five spice lemongrass tofu, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, light soy sauce, and a healthy smear of light vegan mayo. Add chili oil, and few Charlottesville sandwiches are as satisfying.

#6: Bánh Mì – Vu Noodles
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches

Others of Note: Bánh Mì at Chimm Street. Vegan: Vegan Bahn Mi (sp.) at Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery

Five Finds on Friday: Casandra Rodriguez

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Casandra Rodriguez of Vegan Comforts Soul Food, which opens this Sunday March 13, and will be open every Sunday and Monday to follow. Rodriguez has formerly served her vegan soul food at markets and pop-ups, and now has a temporary home at Royalty Coffee Sandwiches and Pastries on Cherry Avenue. A permanent venue is coming soon. Follow along for updates on Instagram. At Vegan Comforts, she’s particularly fond of the Vish Tacos, made from fried hearts of palm, as well as the “Slow Poke Rodriguez,” with Field Roast chorizo, simply egg scrambled in homemade salsa, topped with feta cheeze on a homemade buttermilk biscuit. Elsewhere in town, Rodriguez’s all-Vegan picks:

1) Pho and Crispy Rolls at Vu Noodles. “I get the crispy rolls just so I can dip them in the pho, and both together are so comforting, savory, and refreshingly delicious. I literally go here once or twice a week. Highly recommend.”

2) Portobello Philly at Firefly. “When I’m craving a Philly cheesesteak and don’t feel like cooking this is my go-to spot for it. It is so yummy.”

3) Creole Beans Platter at Pearl Island. “Wooo chile, this whole meal is the perfect combo. The creole beans are perfectly seasoned and the tostones with the sauce are to die for. Don’t get me started on the rice with the garlic kale. So so good.”

4) Won Ton Nachos at Botanical. “Ryan got me hooked on these nachos. They are so delicious. The cashew cheese sauce could pass for real cheese, first of all, and the toppings were so fresh and had the perfect crisp light touch. Def will be back for more.”

5) General Tso’s Cauliflower and Coconut Rice at Bang!. “Bring back the chickpea roll things, haha, no but seriously. My favorite dish from here right now is the General Tso’s cauliflower and the coconut rice. So comforting and filling.”

Five Finds on Friday: Megan Adams

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Megan Adams, the local baker who makes made-to-order pies for purchase in Charlottesville. In this month’s rotation are pumpkin pie with a pretzel crust and streusel topping, eggnog custard, dark chocolate ganache and peppermint pie, and Spicy Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie. Place orders at meganchopsalot@gmail.com and follow along on Instagram at @meg_the_scallion. Adams’ picks:

1) Spicy Honey Garlic Karaage from Basan. “This is everything you could ever want in a chicken nugget. Basan marinates, double fries, and sauces to perfection these sweet-salty-spicy nuggets. They can be eaten any time of day, even for breakfast.”

2) Kabocha Squash Brioche Tart with Cream Cheese from Baker No Bakery. “Chris had this brioche on her menu more than once, and that just felt like Christmas all October long. The pastry was soft, yet sturdy enough to hold the weight of a squash purée and cream cheese filling. I had no idea what I had signed up for but once I knew I had to go back for seconds and thirds.”

3) Tofu Caramelized Onions Noodles from Vu Noodles. “This dish is my go-to almost every time I’m having a bad day. I grab my bag, sit in my car, whip out the chopsticks and go to town on that box of noodles. And every time, without fail, I find myself happier with every bite. The ginger soy sauce just drenches the noodles and tofu and makes for the best pick-me-up meal.”

4) Za’atar Croissant from Bowerbird Bakeshop. “I fervently believe there is not a single sandwich condiment that cannot be put on this croissant. Veggies, pork belly and American cheese, egg and kimchi. Shoot, you could even do up a fancy avocado toast on this baby because it can literally handle anything. 10/10.”

5) Smash Burger from Basan. “I’m sorry to admit that in the 12 years of food service work I’ve clocked, I hadn’t had a smash burger until . . . THIS YEAR. Oh man was I missing out. These smash burgers are a special menu item only brought out during pop ups, so if you know . . . you know. I had built my own with egg, Mama Bird’s Napa Kimchi, avocado, comeback sauce, onion, and American chees, but I could have eaten it entirely plain and still had a 420/10 experience. The crust on the burger from being smashed and so quickly seared is unlike any burger your dad can pull off of his grill. Sorry Dad.”

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