Saturday, March 15, 2014

Banh Mi Sandwiches and more at Hong Cuc in Lowell

Many would agree that Hong Cuc makes the best Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches in Lowell.  My family has been going to the family own and operated shop for many years.  Despite my family moving out of state, they still like to stock up on these sandwiches every chance they can get.  When they visit Lowell, they place sandwich orders by the dozen for these delicious meat sandwiches topped with cucumber, red onion, cilantro,  carrots and daikon.  The secret "mayo-like" sauce is what makes the sandwich and I truly believe is the best part of the sandwich.

Previously the shop was tucked in a small plaza off Dutton street sharing a parking lot with a video store and an Asian seafood market and it has now expanded and moved to a new location on Grand street just a few minutes away from their original location.

The sandwich shop was easy to find but getting into the parking lot was a bit scary.  There was a car blocking the entrance as he was waiting to pull out onto the busy main road and we were waiting to get in. In the mean time, cars and buses coming at fast speeds were annoyed that we were at a complete stop on the main road (despite our blinkers being on to turn right)

We entered the "Grand Eatery" and I was definitely impressed with the space.  One of the sisters mentioned it was almost a brand new space and the building was only a couple years old.

The shop was clean and spacious, unlike the other competition in Lowell. The refrigerator on the right was stocked with a variety of Asian drinks as well some common western drinks.  It also housed pre-made desserts, snacks and sausages that needed to be kept cool.

There were beautiful displays of beef jerky, rice cakes and other snack foods in the center of the shop.

The colorful desserts and snacks along the counter all looked amazing and I wanted to try them all!  You know I had to try the eggroll.

Hong Cuc Fried Eggroll .60 cents each
I thought the sandwich and drink signs were helpful for new customers that needed a visual display of the goods.

Almost every Asian fast food place and restaurant in Lowell offers Smoothies, iced coffee/teas, shakes and the likes.  I'm a huge fan of bubble tea with pearl but today I opted out.  The Mo got an iced coffee with pearl and he enjoyed it.

Hong Cuc Iced Coffee with pearl $ 4.00
Behind the glass cases were the meat and vegetable fillings for the sandwiches.  Unlike I've seen before, there was also Vietnamese prepared food for sale. I couldn't get behind the glass so I stole the the images below from Jeffery's Tran's FB Page. It looked like a good assortment of fried chicken wings, chicken and beef stir fry dishes. They also have steamed bao buns for sale.

Photo Courtesy of J.Tran
One thing that caught the Mo's eye was the Vietnamese pork chop rice plate.  That is his staple go-to dish (when he's not ordering pho) at any Vietnamese restaurant.  The prepared meal came with white rice, one pork chop, one fried sunny-side up egg,  nuoc mam fish dipping sauce along with cucumbers, lettuce, and tomato for $ 6.50 each.

The employee told us they sold 30 pork rice plates the day before so we had to give it a try.  By the time we got home, it was on the cold side, I'm not sure if it was leftover from yesterday or if it was made really early in the morning.  The pork chop was tender and flavorful and the fish dipping sauce was perfect.

Hong Cuc Pork Chop and Egg Rice Plate $ 6.50 

There was an interesting Vietnamese package that intrigued me.  One of the sisters described it as a Vietnamese dish made from rice flour with a mung bean & pork filling.  It appealed to me, so I got a pack.  After a Google image search at home, I learned these glutinous rice dumplings were called "Banh It Tran" or "Little naked cakes."

Hong Cuc Eatery "Banh It Tran" rice mung bean/pork cake $ 3.00
Banh It Tran pork and mung bean filling
It reminded me of a dessert my mom makes with rice flour and mung beans in ginger coconut milk but this was an appetizer/entree and served with meat and fish sauce.  The crispy topping (I assume its shredded dried shrimp or fish) added a nice contrast to the soft glutinous rice flour.

No trip to a Vietnamese sandwich shop would be complete without a banh mi so we opted for a # 6, a BBQ beef sandwich.  The employee advised that it is the 2nd popular choice after their #1 original combo.  I was disappointed that I forgot to ask for extra sauce but the crispy sandwich was still tasty.

Unlike other shops, they definitely didn't hold back on the meat filling and the sandwich was stuffed! 
My kinda place!

Hong Cuc # 6 BBQ Beef Banh Mi $ 4.50 ea

Even though we just had fresh spring rolls last night at Pho Da Lat, we still wanted to try Hong Cuc's version with barbecued pork.  The spicy nuoc mam fish sauce added a nice kick to the light Vietnamese appetizer.

Hong Cuc Fresh Spring Roll $ 4.00 for a pack of 3

We had a mini feast for two at home

Besides the food, my favorite part of this dining establishment is that they ACCEPT CREDIT/DEBIT cards! I can't count how many times we've wanted Asian fast food on the weekends and had to run to the bank or get cash back.  

The Mo thought it was really neat that Hong Cuc utilizes Clover as their point of sale system. The sleek payment terminal was quick and effortless.  An itemized receipt was emailed to the Mo upon checkout. 
Kudos to stepping up the game!  

Here's a print screen of what was emailed (I deleted the payment portion for obvious reasons)


Mar 15, 2014 10:46:58 AM


LOWELL, MA 01851


Have a large order? Skip the line and call ahead to order!
Credit Card


2Egg Rolls$1.20


1Spring Rolls$4.00


1Rice Plate$6.50

1Beef Sandwich$4.50




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Hong Cuc Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon