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Full Steam Dumpling Chef Launches Back Door Bánh Mí in Santa Cruz


  • Chef Andy Huynh, renowned for his Full Steam Dumpling venture in Santa Cruz, has initiated a new culinary delight – Back Door Bánh Mí.
  • This pop-up venture focuses on Vietnamese bánh mí sandwiches.
  • Huynh aspires to transition this pop-up into a brick-and-mortar establishment.

Andy Huynh is not your everyday chef. His culinary prowess at Full Steam Dumpling, situated inside the Santa Cruz Art Lounge, has made the spot both the best dumpling and ramen venue in the area. The menu frequently shifts, offering patrons delightful Szechuan, Chinese, and Japanese-inspired dishes. The hand-wrapped dumplings and hearty, intricate soups have made quite a reputation.

So, when news surfaced that Huynh launched Back Door Bánh Mí, focusing on Vietnamese bánh mí sandwiches, enthusiasts and food lovers, like me, flocked to the Live Oak farmers market. The pop-up witnessed a partnership with farmer Ryan Abelson of Pajaro Pastures. The outcome? Delectable sandwiches, priced at $14, packed with pork sourced from Abelson’s heritage pigs, which were brined and slow-roasted by the duo. Every bite into the bolillo roll reveals sweet, smoky pork, crunchy cucumber and jalapeno slices, tangy pickled carrots and daikon slaw, house-made creamy pâté, and cilantro. In short, the sandwiches were a delight that justified the wait.

For those who wish to sample this delicacy, another pop-up is slated for July 18 at the Grove Café in Felton. This time, Huynh will team up with chef Jessica Yarr, who will introduce Vietnamese pastries to the menu.

Anticipate a series of Back Door Bánh Mí pop-ups in the upcoming months. These will also feature at the downtown Santa Cruz farmers market on Wednesdays, starting in September. The ever-evolving menu promises a meat-centric bánh mí, a vegetarian version with deep-fried oyster mushrooms procured from Far West Fungi, along with egg rolls and a salad.

Expressing his aspirations, Huynh shared his desire to establish Back Door Bánh Mí in a fixed location. Envisioning it as a Vietnamese café and pho outlet, akin to the Full Steam Dumpling and ramen model, Huynh added, “Being of Vietnamese descent, this cuisine resonates with my childhood. It genuinely evokes profound emotions.”

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