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Dining

Bite Now: ‘Banh-Mi’ Burger

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Photo: Erin Ryan

The Details

Bachi Burger
9410 W. Sahara Ave. # 150, 255-3055.
Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Sunday & Monday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
470 E. Windmill Lane # 100, 242-2244.
Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday & Monday, 11 a.m.-midnight.

The burgers looked too big to hold, let alone bite without needing the bib and roll of paper towels you get at Joe's Crab Shack. They also looked crazy delicious. So I went to the Henderson Bachi for a late-afternoon nosh—solo. If the sandwich overpowered my face I didn't want any witnesses.

I had already scouted the menu, which brims with inventive blends of classic burger elements and bright Asian flavors, textures and twists. I am definitely going back to try the Peking duck steamed buns with black vinaigrette and the oxtail chili cheese fries, but on this day I was focused. Meat, bread and whatever Bachi could squeeze between them. My pick was the "Banh-Mi" Burger ($9), in quotes because it's a play on the French-Vietnamese fusion sandwich of the same name. Under the bun was a patty made of Angus beef, pork and shrimp, topped with a thin slice of grilled pork pâté, crisp lettuce and hints of lemongrass, herbs and curry aioli. The pickled slivers of carrot and daikon radish came on the side with fresh jalapeno slices and a shallow bowl of nuoc mam, an intensely sweet sauce with a marmalade tang and an undercurrent of garlic.

My server placed an enormous steak knife next to the plate, "just in case." But I was determined to manhandle this lunch. The bun was a thing of beauty. The bottom was almost invisible under all those fillings, but the top was like a shiny cumulus cloud drifting over the lettuce. Curling my fingers around my opponent, I squeezed. Hard. Like an accordion, it compressed with ease, the bun so light and airy that it squished perfectly over its contents and stayed that way. I bit into it expecting to be overwhelmed by the crush of intense, complex flavors, but the Bachi kitchen is clever about proportions. The loudest note, and rightly so, is the meat. The patty is thick and cooked medium (unless you say otherwise) to maintain its juiciness. As you chew, the charms of all three meats have their turn, the shrimp bits like savory polka dots. And as your tongue adjusts to the boldness there, it catches the curry in another bite, and the sharp daikon in another and the swooney sweetness of the sauce melting through everything. The bun breaks down as you munch, soaking up the other essences, so the last bite is akin to that last morsel of pancake soaked through with maple-syrupy butter.

My hands were a mess, but my face was spotless. And it's a good thing, too. Because the guy who looked like Penn Jilette at the next table actually was Penn Jilette (he posed for pictures with the Bachi crew before he left). So the final verdict is this: Eat at Bachi for the fresh, creative, filling-but-not-gut-busting burgers, and the chance you might see a famous magician make pickles disappear.

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Erin Ryan

Erin got her first newspaper job in 2002 thanks to a campfire story about Bigfoot. In her award-winning work for ...

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