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 recommendation — Sau 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.