sf banh mi, hands-down best

The other day I tried three NYC Chinatown-area banh mi spots within about an hour. I’d heard a lot about Banh Mi Saigon Bakery and Bahn Mi So lately. But as I imagined writing this blog post in my head, all I could think of was it turning into a rant about Jennifer 8. Lee’s recent recommendationSau Voi Corp — in Time Out New York. If your favorite thing about banh mi is the carrots, then you’re in luck; otherwise you might want to skip it. The thing is, I want my blog to be more positive than that, so let’s focus on the good. San Francisco does banh mi best, period. But before I get to that, if you’re in NYC’s Chinatown and looking for a good deal, I’d probably recommend Bahn Mi So on Broome (see photo above) for value, quality, speed of service, the bread, and overall taste.

Back to San Francisco… Saigon Sandwich came very highly recommended. I stopped by on my way to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and ordered a sandwich to go. I wasn’t prepared to fall in love at first bite. The bread was perfectly textured and toasted — they keep the buns warm in a small oven. The sandwich had just the right balance of meat, veggies, and chiles. And the flavors were flawless.

Did I mention these amply-sized sandwiches are just $3? Add to that, the lady behind the counter is faaaaaast. Have you ever waited 15 minutes for a sandwich at Nicky’s Vietnamese in the East Villge when there are just a few people in line? Yeah, me too. Then imagine my shock when I watched the counter lady take orders for everyone in Saigon Sandwich, some people asking for 6 or more, and then seeing her crank out at least a dozen sandwiches in about 90 seconds. It was amazing. I liked this bahn mi so much, I actually ran over to pick some up on the morning I left San Francisco, just to have something yummy to eat in the airport. Now that’s a compliment. Sorry, New York, it’s no contest. SF wins.

28 thoughts on “sf banh mi, hands-down best

  1. My favorite Banh mi is from Lee's Sandwiches (the original one in East San Jose). The best is banh mi thit nuong (grilled pork)with pate and stuffed with lots of crunchy pickled daikon, carrots, cilantro and jalapenos.. I'm getting hungry!

  2. Hi Justin,I think we may have been separated at birth 🙂 I've only tried a couple of banh mi in NYC, a place in Chinatown (can't remember the name – may have been Saigon Bakery) and most recently, some ridiculously priced sandwiches from Boi to Go in midtown. They honestly can't compare to the ones I grew up eating in Vancouver. During my last visit, we tried 5 different banh mi shops one afternoon to find the best one (oink!). Maybe one day I'll actually get around to blogging about it! Would love to see a Banh Mi showdown between S/F and Vancouver one day!

  3. I really do like your reviews of these food joints because although I haven't been to the US in more than a decade now, I've got lots of friends old and new living there and I can pass along the information. 🙂

  4. You HAVE to try Hanco's right off the Bergen Street stop on the F line in Brooklyn before you make the "best banh mi" judgment call. Get one "pork spicy" and "chicken spicy" and rejoice.

  5. d: hmm, looks like i've been schooled… will have to try to make it to east san jose some timechristina: thanks for visiting… can't quite remember what that's in reference too though!lele: definitely roast pork, and i know i didn't try the meat ball (sounds good though), and there is a tiny chance i tried fanci pork, but if you knew how much i ate on my last trip, you'd understand why it's a slight blur nowjenn: well, at least it's not too far for youphyllis: lol, i know… reminds me of your poutine post. i know vancouver has a big asian community, but I didn't realize it was known for vietnamese. i used to think vietnamese in the nyc area was pretty good, but san fran really puts us to shame. there was a meal i haven't written about that was so amazing.sarahahaha: if you're saying that you used to live there, then yes, i would miss it too. wait, i do miss it and it was just a few weeks ago!murasaki: thanks… glad you appreciate themmeg: no, but i will definitely put that on my list. i'm very open to trying new places in the nyc area

  6. A favorite here – we have it homemade for lunch once a week. Always with pickled veggies. We've found great banh mi in strange places including a Paris bistro operated by Vietnamese expats.

  7. jujubeans: not sure about the fanci pork. i wish i lived in SF and could go back and find out for suremary: you make your own banh mi at home? wow, i'm impressed.

  8. I've heard so much about these sandwiches, and finally tried one in DC, but was disappointed: the only thing I could taste was the salt.

  9. this is my favorite place too – although they recently raised the prices. Additionally, they sell jack fruit chips that you get in southeast asia. reat bonus…in term of banh mi, i like to birn my pork shoulder before grilling it. i have also made my own pate to go with the meat. DELICIOUS

  10. pigpigscorner: not sure if you mean this specific spot, or banh mi in general, but if you're ever in SF, you definitely want to check this place out.

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