If the banh mi sandwich is a symbol of French colonialism in Vietnam, then the Polish-style banh mi at Silent H in Williamsburg is an emblem of the gentrification of North Brooklyn.
Just as the most adamant anti-imperialists can agree that the banh mi is a cross-cultural culinary triumph, all Brooklynites — no matter their perspective on the influx of young, artsy, and increasingly wealthy residents in the Polish community — can agree that this sandwich is marvelous.
The so-called “Greenpoint” banh mi ($6.50) starts like any Vietnamese sandwich: with a fresh French baguette layered with pickled carrots and daikon, which give the sandwich a light, slightly sweet, summery taste.
Next, add a coat of Vietnamese aioli, a few diced jalapeno peppers, several sprigs of cilantro, and a slathering of pate and you’re on your way to the classic varieties of banh mi that are popular at Brooklyn joints like Hanco’s, Nicky’s, and Ba Xuyen.
But instead of topping it off with Vietnamese cold cuts a la Ho Chi Minh City, the chefs at Silent H draw their influence from Huron Street by incorporating sliced Greenpoint kielbasa — turning this multi-national, pan-ethnic, post-racial sandwich into a veritable melting pot on bread.
The result is a richer, smokier Vietnamese sandwich that doesn’t compromise the banh mi’s refreshing flavor.
A sandwich this good makes you wish the French had invaded Poland, too.
Silent H [79 Berry Street between N. Ninth and N. 10th streets in Williamsburg, (718) 218-7063]. Lunch only. Closed Monday.