New Chee Lor first experienced the popularity of Vietnamese sandwiches at the family store he helped run in Milwaukee. He’s hoping that same attraction to the mix of sweet and spicy flavors will take hold in Wausau.
He’s opening Newch’s Banh Mi restaurant today, July 7, at 514 Fulton St., across from Tres Hermanos Mexican restaurant and attached to the Wausau Oriental Market. Having the grocer nearby will be helpful, Lor says.
Other places in Wausau and Stevens Point sell banh mi sandwiches, but Lor’s is the only one as far as he knows that specializes on this sandwich. He also claims they’ll be the biggest—$5-6 will net you an 8-10-inch sub-sized sandwich, enough to fill up a hungry lunch-goer, Lor says. Other southeast Asian cuisine, such as egg rolls, spring rolls and bubble tea, also are on the menu.
Lor, 22, is a D.C. Everest graduate, and says Wausau is ready for a shop like his. When he was growing up there weren't many local options for Asian food, he says. Today, specialties such as pho are familiar items on the local food scene, opening the door to new options that could prove just as popular.
Banh mi sandwiches are something like American subs, but with a different twist,” Lor says. Pickled carrots, daikon radish and jalapeno peppers alongside a main ingredient lend the sandwiches a spicy yet sweet taste, Lor says. (You also can get sandwiches without hot peppers.) Historically, the banh mi sandwich was a product of French colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th century—traditional Vietnamese ingredients served in a French-style baguette. Main ingredients at Newch’s include meatball, pork, roasted chicken, sardines, and fried tofu.
Cooking has been a hobby and a passion, Lor says. He taught himself how to cook and prepare food, following his family’s recipes. Newch’s Banh Mi is similar to the Milwaukee restaurant that he says he ran for nearly two years. Find Newch’s Banh Mi on Facebook.