Banh mi joint Xankia expands offerings at new Downtown home
A new option in the Downtown dining scene, Xankia serves up Vietnamese sandwiches at 222 W. Wells St. after relocating from Pacific Produce on South 27th Street.
The Pacific Produce location was known as Banh Mi Nhu Y before Xa Xiong, owner of Xankia, took over the location and renamed it in April 2014. Xankia moved its operations to Wells Street to be closer to fans who were saying they should start a food truck for service downtown.
"We started realizing that it's not just Vietnamese or Asians who like [banh mi] and that our customer base is in Downtown Milwaukee, too," Xiong says. "We have a lot of customers from the North Side of Milwaukee."
Xankia, pronounced "sun-kia," loosely translated means "unity, bringing people together," Xiong says.
Banh mi takes center stage at Xankia. Originating in Vietnam, banh mi was born when the country was a colony of France. The French brought their famed baguettes to Vietnam and the bread, ideal with a crispy outside and soft inside, became the base of banh mi. Vietnamese cooks spiced up the French version by adding chili peppers and fresh cilantro.
Xankia makes their version spread with mayo sauce and filled with either pork, pate, chicken, fried tofu, meatballs, steak or sardines. When making the perfect banh mi, layering is crucial so that all of the flavors blend together in each bite. Fresh cucumber and cilantro are interspersed with pickled carrots and daikon, a type of radish, and optional jalapeños.
Banh mi is meant to be eaten fresh, when the warm bread serves as a contrast to the cool, crisp vegetables. Xankia's sandwiches are made to order. If you are in a rush, call ahead to put in your order.
Sandwiches are available a la carte or make it meal with a soda and shrimp chips or two egg rolls, filled with vermicelli noodles, cabbage and carrots. For dessert, the lotus cookies are popular.
"If you are sitting in the office or traveling, it's a good snack," Xiong says.
Although Xankia's specialty is banh mi, they are also dabbling in noodle dishes and pho. Spring rolls are available as a side as are steamed buns filled with pork, mushroom, sausage and egg. A larger space allows for a separate counter for drinks like boba tea and Thai iced tea. Xankia is one of the only places you will find boba in Milwaukee, and the restaurant mixes up boba tea in flavors like lychee, passion fruit and watermelon.
Xiong says he hopes to continue adding items to the menu as they grow like the curry noddles that they served at the Pacific Produce location.
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