Huy Tat's part of the family that runs wing and noodle mecca Hue Ky Mi Gia, as well as the owner of the fish- and oyster-focused Salted Sea in Columbia City. So this new life of baguette-baking and pate a choux is a bit of an adjustment. You'll find the fruits of this learning curve at Lan Hue, a newly open banh mi shop in the Pacific Rim Center at 900 S Jackson Street, in the prominent storefront that was previously Uway Malatang. Here, in this trim, white space, Tat and his relatives build sandwiches from scratch, in homage to the family's banh mi shop in Saigon.
Tat's father and uncle opened the original Lan Hue in the Vietnamese city's 10th district in 1976. When his uncle, Mon Tat, moved to Seattle to be closer to his daughter and grandkids, he brought decades of baking knowledge, but zero desire to deal with the headaches of building a business. That's where his nephew's experience comes into play.
"I'm a restaurant guy," the younger Tat acknowledged one morning right after the first round of baguette loaves had gone into the oven. But seeing something as simple as flour and dough become savory pastries, or the foundation of a good sandwich, brings its own sense of fulfillment.
There are about 17 sandwiches on Lan Hue's menu, which is divided into Paris, Seattle, and Saigon categories (and a vegetarian option with tofu). In addition to the baguettes, Tat's family makes everything from the pate to the bologna to the mayonnaise; most of the meaty fixings are on array in the glass deli case. Banh mi options range from shredded chicken to ham and pate to fish in tomato sauce. Tat's especially excited about sandwich no. 1, grilled beef that's ground in house and mixed with lemongrass. But then he's also a fan of the pork belly, the pork meatballs...
Baker-in-chief Mon Tat focuses on more traditional baguettes, longer and skinnier than similar counterparts elsewhere. Sandwiches are about 11 inches long and run $4 each (buy five and the sixth is free).
Lan Hue fills its pastry case with flaky, meat-filled pate chaud and ball-shaped banh bao, both the typical steamed variety and a baked version filled with duck egg and pork. A custom coconut shredding machine from Vietnam assists with the sweet version, topped with black sesame. The shop also sells Vietnamese coffee, sugarcane juice, and a cooler full of soft drinks and che.
No Facebook or website just yet, but the shop is open daily from 9-8.