Winooski may be Vermont's most fascinating town. It is the smallest in area of our state's incorporated municipalities and its most densely populated. More importantly, it has by far the largest recent immigrant population. In our whitest of white states, Winooski can make the strongest claim of any town to actual... diversity!
It's wonderful! I mean, there's grumbling. White people too often grumble over black and brown people. But for the more thoughtful among us, it's fantastic. We have friends in Winooski with a daughter about to start kindergarten this year and I envy the languages she's going to hear in her everyday life at school. It presents challenges for the education system, to be sure. But the community has embraced the challenges and as a result, she and her classmates will experience a childhood unlike anyone else in the state. I think it's exciting.
Another benefit of our area's increasing diversity is a greater variety of restaurants. There are now enough Nepali restaurants, for instance, to merit their own category in Seven Days's annual Seven Daysies awards. Vietnamese food is actually rather well established, the Burlington area's Vietnamese population being well into its second and third generations at this point. As such, Sarom's Cafe, a banh mi restaurant which opened about a year ago, is most welcome.
Banh mi is a style of sandwich from Vietnam's French colonial heritage, now a staple food in that country. When we first moved to Vermont 20 years ago, we lived a lot closer to Winooski than we do now. At the time, there was an Asian grocery store in town that made the best banh mi we've ever had using paté. They were great to grab for picnics and such. Sadly, the store is long gone but the legacy lives on. Sarom's banh mi isn't quite as decadently beautiful as what we remember but it's still nice to have a dependable place in the area.
I ordered the chicken, my wife the beef so we could try both. I preferred the chicken, the beef being a little too heavily seasoned for my tastes. Both were nice, though. The spring rolls were good, as was the very hot coffee. Service was friendly and the space pleasant.
They have French pastries, too, though we didn't try them this time...
We'll be back.