Worlds collide with the banh mi cevapcici at Sunset Pho Caffe | Bleader

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Worlds collide with the banh mi cevapcici at Sunset Pho Caffe

Posted By on 08.13.15 at 10:00 AM

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click to enlarge Banh mi cevapcici, Sunset Pho Caffe - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Banh mi cevapcici, Sunset Pho Caffe

Some time ago I threatened to start posting a cevapcici of the week, celebrating the ubiquitous Balkan sausage in all its glorious diversity. Other sausages got in the way—there was just so much sopressata and morcilla to write about. But then I got word of an intriguing cross-cultural hybrid in a West Rogers Park Vietnamese restaurant: a sandwich already born of colonial culinary miscegenation, joined in perfect union with the skinless beef sausage from southeastern Europe.

My friends, I give you the banh mi cevapcici.

It's the creation of Ngoc Diep Stakic and husband Zel, owners of the one-year-old Sunset Pho Caffe. Ngoc, who hails from Ho Chi Minh City, has been making cevapcici spring rolls for Zel (Rijeka, Croatia) ever since they got married a decade ago. Last summer Zel, a realtor, was showing the space—the erstwhile Balkan Sunset Caffe—to a potential client with Ngoc tagging along. Impressed with his pitch, she asked if she could have it, and Sunset Pho Caffe was born.



click to enlarge Pho dac biet, Sunset Pho Caffe - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Pho dac biet, Sunset Pho Caffe

It's an unusual place to look over a Vietnamese menu with a full complement of rice, noodles, pho, and specials like curried frogs legs and clay pot catfish. It's all dark wood, track lighting, slivovitz behind the bar, and the sibilant sounds of Serbo-Croatian from longtime regulars hunkered over bowls of bun bo hue. On the other hand, slurp a bowl of Ngoc's intoxicating pho dac biet on the covered patio alongside busy Western Avenue on a humid afternoon and you might as well be on a Saigon sidewalk.

click to enlarge Banh mi cevapcici, Sunset Pho Caffe - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Banh mi cevapcici, Sunset Pho Caffe

The Vietnamese have been eating betel-leaf-wrapped beef sausage sandwiches (banh mi bo lo lat), for like forever, so a banh mi cevapcici really isn't all that weird. The Stakics serve thin grilled beef/veal cevapcici with the aforementioned spring rolls and with rice noodles, but it's on the crispy house baked roll, with Ngoc's house-made mayo, pickled carrots and daikon, raw jalapeno, and cilantro, that it achieves sausage sandwich singularity.

Ăn ngon nhé/ Dokbar tek!
 
click to enlarge Sunset Pho Caffe - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Sunset Pho Caffe

Sunset Pho Caffe, 5726 N. Western, 773-275-2327

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