Turkey Bahn Mi at Burger Boss

A fantastic sandwich. I want another.

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By David Hammond

In 1986, I bet on my first Kentucky Derby. The horse was Ferdinand, and my friend Patrick Barclay chose him based on the fact that the rider was the legendary Willie Shoemaker and that, also according to legend, the horse was fed Guinness (Patrick's favorite brew) every day. Ferdinand won, paid out around 18-1, and our measly $20 bets paid off over $300. Buoyed by our unexpected windfall, we became convinced that we were "professional gamblers." We continued to bet on the race every year since, losing regularly (we won only one other time, when we confused our horse's number with another horse's pole position and accidentally won with Silver Charm, 1997).

Still, every year about this time, Patrick comes to Oak Park, we drive to Maywood the night before the Derby, and put down our money, which almost surely will be lost, though we continually assure each other that "this is our year."

Part of our Derby ritual is a stop for dinner, usually at Johnnie's. This past weekend, however, the weather was inclement, we didn't want to eat outside, so we stopped at Burger Boss.

Patrick rolled his eyes when I ordered the Turkey Bahn Mi (he went with beef), but it was by far one of the tastiest burgers I've had in a very long time. I got the double, which was two ground turkey patties, in a close-to-traditional Bahn Mi preparation (except for the burgers and the bun).

Bahn Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich: a roll of French bread (reflection of the French occupation of Indochina) with some protein (pate, tofu, chicken) and a lot of fresh vegetables: slivered radish and carrots, cilantro, sliced cucumbers and jalapenos.  If you get a Bahn Mi sandwich on the streets of Saigon, the meat inside would likely not be turkey, but I thought the lightly griddled bird meat was a beautiful complement to the vegetables, and with a perky sriracha mayonnaise, this was a fantastic sandwich. For the French bread, Burger Boss substitutes a brioche, which is probably better in some ways, as it's kind of difficult to put meat patties in a French roll and the softer brioche bun makes it all a little easier to eat. I actually wanted to eat a second one of these burgers immediately after finishing the first. I didn't do that, but I do plan to return to Burger Boss during the month.

Honestly, and it kind of embarrasses me to say this, but I liked the Turkey Bahn Mi better than any actual, traditional, by-book Bahn Mi sandwich that I've had here, in Vietnam or anywhere else. It was juicier, warmer and so a little tastier, perhaps, and way more satisfying. Again, I feel like a tool saying I like this burger version more than the real thing, but hey, there's no arguing taste.

The Turkey Bahn Mi is going to be the signature burger at Burger Boss throughout the month of May. I'm guessing after that they take it off the menu for a while.

I enjoyed the Turkey Bahn Mi more than most burgers.

And, of course, we lost our Derby bets (Vicar's in Trouble – and it seemed like a sure thing!)



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David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 9th, 2014 7:08 PM

Recommending dishes or restaurants is tricky because tastes vary...and who knows, you might hit the place on an off day (or I might have hit it on a very right day). So glad you liked the Turkey Bahn Mi, Susannah, and cool that it coincides with the monthly recognition.

Susannah from Oak Park  

Posted: May 9th, 2014 5:56 PM

Thanks to your article, I have had a hankering for this Turkey Bahn Mi burger all week. I went and got one for dinner, and it was really delicious! I think that having this featured as the burger of the month is a great idea because it is also Asian American Heritage month. Not sure if it's a coincidence but I think it's neat all the same. I may have to go back before the month ends!

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 6th, 2014 2:56 PM

Hey, I'm the one who was compared to Hitler, and aware, as I am, of Godwin's Law, I try to avoid even passing mention of that man or Nazis in anything I write -- it's cliché. Though I'm generally a supporter of Facebook verification, love your screen name (my favorite Pawn Star and cartoon penguin!). I happen to like cilantro, but I know that some have what is actually a genetic aversion to it, and I'm sure the guys at Burger Boss can leave it off the sandwich if you ask them to.

Don Anderson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2014 1:10 PM

No, for some people Cilantro tastes like soap.


Posted: May 6th, 2014 12:10 PM

David, I hate the taste of cilantro. Does that make me worse than Hitler?

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