When Charles Phan returned to his homeland of Vietnam in 1992 for the first time since he was a teen, one food item in particular stood out to him: the banh mi. It was all in the bread. The fluffy on the inside yet crisp on the outside texture was like nothing he’d ever experienced in the United States.
This was a few years before the chef would go on to open his legendary San Francisco restaurant, The Slanted Door. But even back in the 1990s, “I always wanted to do a sandwich spot,” said Phan.