Thursday, August 20, 2009

Saigon Banh Mi Bakery

A week long Asian food craving is driving me crazy. I'm not at home where mom's food usually does the trick. And I'm not near anything remotely authentic (any borough's Chinatown). On my last day of my not-brown-bagging-lunch week, I decided to forget the distance. I'm taking an extended lunch to get to Chinatown and back. I decided to get some banh mi from Saigon Banh Mi Bakery. It's been a while since I've had one. And it's a great summer sandwich. It's not too heavy and it's filled with vegetables. The train takes about 15 minutes from Midtown. A quick 5 minute walk from the Grand Street station and I'm at the door of the bakery with the blue awning. Once inside, there's the jewelry store. They actually had customers. And in the back, the bakery with it's simple, yet delicious menu. I order the #4 which is the banh mi with pate cha and spicy($3.75). Normally, I would get the banh mi with pork but I felt like having that livery taste from pate. There's a bit of wait since it's around lunch time. It's getting busy with people off the street and dialed in orders. Lucky for me, my pate cha is easy to assemble with no cooking needed. I get my order before several people before me. Score! Now back at the office, 1 hour later, I unwrap the sandwich and it's smaller than I imagined. I'm used to bigger banh mi's. At least, that's what I've been getting at other place. Maybe my memory is giving up. This is just one half of what you get in an order. A side shot of the sandwich and you can see a good schmear of pate with pork roll and cucumbers, cilantro, carrots, and daikon. Everything you need to make a good banh mi. The bread is super crusty. I love it! But the inside is soft and yields to the filling well. The pate is livery just the way I like it. The pork roll adds a good meatiness. And the pickled vegetables add a nice tang while retaining their crunchiness. It's a great summer sandwich. One thing of notice is the spiciness. Every time that I get a banh mi, I order it spicy. It doesn't usually add much kick. Many times, I don't even notice it. However, Saigon is the only place where I can actually taste the hotness. It wasn't too hot for me. But I can see how some people wouldn't like it. The pickled vegetables help cool it off. But in some bites, it overwhelmed the other tastes. In other bites, it was normal. I have to say that Saigon Banh Mi Bakery offers one of the better sandwiches out there. Is it the best? Hard to say but definitely up there. If you like spicy banh mi's though, it will please you. And at $3.75 (with no tax), you can't complain. Plus, the Saigon seems much cleaner than some of the places that I've been to. That's always a good thing.

Saigon Banh Mi Bakery 138 Mott Street New York, NY 10013 (212) 941-1541

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