CHINATOWN, NEW YORK.
So I have a confession. I am a sandwich snob.
Wait, let me explain.
I am a Vietnamese sandwich snob – a banh mi gourmand, if you will.
Actually, I’m a snob about Vietnamese food on the East Coast in general (save anything homemade). Before you cast stones, I grew up
stuffing my face with in the presence of the best quality Vietnamese food.
(That is fact, by the way.)
To make matters worse, I also rarely ever eat out. I know what you’re thinking: you live in New York City – home of the best restaurants, cafes, and food trucks, and you never eat out!? Are you crazy or just poor?
To answer your rampant thoughts: I just really love to cook. (And despite the all of the water, sunlight, and love I tend, my money tree seed just refuses to sprout.)
* * *
But then it happened. My craving for ‘food from home’ became too obnoxious to ignore. Upon recommendation – via Yelp, word of mouth, my stomach – I met up with a few friends to check out one of the city’s best banh mi establishments has to offer.
Banh Mi Saigon – on Grand Street, between Mulberry & Mott – has a no fuss, no frills storefront. As bare basics as they can look – including or excluding the side jewelry store inside, your choice – the money is in the food that crosses the register. They offer four basic meals: sandwiches (banh mi), noodles (bun), spring/summer rolls (goi cuon), and salad (goi) with a variety of toppings.
My friends had the #1 – BBQ pork banh mi – while I opted for #2, Grilled chicken banh mi (hold the mayo, and spicy. Read: jalapeño slices). UM, a picture is worth a thousand words:
Chicken was phenomenal. Bread was a decent combination of flakey and fluffy. Pickled and daikon carrots were delicious (although I have yet to come across otherwise, ever in life). And a lot of cilantro – just how mama likes it.
While I could have appreciated more seating options – lunch time gets BUSY –
I’m pretty sure I could have made space for a second sammy.
* * *
- I grabbed two dessert dishes – banana (che chuoi) & sweet corn tapioca (che bap) – and I was less than impressed. The banana, my favorite, actually had plantains 😦 Plantains are not bananas, people! The sweet corn, however, was not bad! Not the best, but definitely not bad!
- The are open everyday, but close at 6PM. Everyday. I live 100+ blocks away. This proves issue.
The final cut: Stick to the main course. Find dessert elsewhere*.
Needless to say, I am slightly less snobby now.
*They DO have other dessert options…that I plan on indulging in, in the near future.
Banh Mi Saigon
198 Grand Street, New York, NY 10003