My Ngoc Restaurant

2120 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Fresh Find: Lucy Nguyen and Her Hoagies in the Strip
Marlene Parish
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lucy’s back. She’s a fixture in the Strip District, and I bet you know who she is. Lucy Nguyen is the Vietnamese vendor who sets up a grill in front of My Ngoc Restaurant.

Unless it’s raining sideways, she’s there seven days a week from early morning until late afternoon selling banh mi, classic Vietnamese hoagies — Hanoi hoagies, if you like.

The sandwiches are partly French technique, partly Vietnamese ingredients and all delicious. Lucy will ask, “What size you want? $4, $5 or $6? Chicken or pork?”

Then into a freshly cut baguette she piles a skewer’s worth of marinated and grilled chicken or pork, followed by pickled carrots with ginger, sliced onions and icy cucumbers, chopped cilantro and a sprinkling of blazing bird chiles and jalapeno peppers.

To finish it off, each banh mi gets a drizzle of sweet brown sauce, just enough to balance the heat of the peppers.

The result is an explosion of flavor and texture. Want a drink with that? Lucy’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Denise, will make you a fresh lemonade.

The banh mi is a product of French colonialism in Indochina, combining French baguettes with grilled chicken and pork. Other fillings might include pork meatballs, shredded pork or tofu.

A breakfast version in Vietnam includes eggs fried sunny-side up with onions, sprinkled with soy sauce, and piled onto a fresh, and sometimes buttered, baguette.

Lucy will be at her post until late October, when she leaves to spend the winter in Vietnam. Her daughter, Jackie Nguyen, owns the 17-year-old My Ngoc restaurant, which specializes in the cuisine of Vietnam and Thailand.

A banh mi in the Strip on the Penn Avenue sidewalk near 22nd Street Under her umbrella outside the My Ngoc restaurant, Lucy Sheets has been selling scrumptious, cilantro-laden Vietnamese sandwiches on crusty French baguettes for over ten years. She’s open (usually by 7 a.m.) seven days a week (and very late on Friday and Saturday nights.) Get there before lunch on busy Saturdays so she has a full supply of surprising peppers, grilled meats, fresh cucumbers, carrots, secret sauce and other goodies to stuff in these crusty French bread hoagies. Rick Sebak


One response to “My Ngoc Restaurant

  1. Pingback: Hoagie, Hero, Banh Mi, Sub, Grinder « LUNCH ENCOUNTER

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