WHAT Brisket bahn-mi (brisket, sliced carrot, cilantro, pickled onion, jalapeno vinaigrette, aioli, baguette)
WHERE GTA (Gjelina Take Away), gjelina.com
WHY A flavour explosion
Gjelina’s is a hot spot on Abbot Kinney in Venice. Most of the time you have no hope of getting a table, which is why GTA, the restaurant’s take-out option next door, is such a fine-tuned operation. They don’t really have time for newbies (me) to hem and haw over what to have for lunch. Fortunately, a kind stranger piped up when he heard me list three possibilities for lunch. Go with the brisket bahn-mi, he said. Trust me, he told me telepathically.
I did, and he was right. The baguette was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside; the brisket tender; the vegetables so full of flavour; and the medley of flavours meshed perfectly together. Normally, I’d think there was an ingredient or two too many, but each bite highlighted a different taste combo so that I fully got to enjoy the sweet, sour and spicy as they should be enjoyed.
The only caveat: The sandwich can get a bit messy. But regulars of GTA (which by virtue of reading this you now are) collect in the alley (?) — I think it’s an unused parking spot, actually — beside the shop and sit on milk crates to enjoy lunch, meaning the only thing you’re going to mess is concrete, and many have already done that before you.
Kind stranger came and found me after he got his sandwich. “It’s awesome, right?” he said. “It is awesome,” I told him. “Thank you.”