Dishin’: Behold the Banh Mi

We’ve already sung the praises of the $3.00 meal at Saigon Vietnam Deli, which has also been our favorite place for banh mi sandwiches—specifically the banh mi thit nuong, or barbecued pork. So when we heard rave reviews of said sandwiches at a heretofore overlooked alternative (or HOA, not to be confused with the Chinese Vietnamese “Hoa“), we raced to Spring Roll House to check them out.

First you have to find the place (it’s in a strip mall on the south side of Main between 12th and Boren). Once there, you won’t see so much fresh food on display, but just ask for a barbecued pork sandwich. It’s made in the back, behind curtain #1. While you wait, you can ponder what’s behind glass door #2: big bags of the star-feature spring rolls, frozen. Better yet, sample them hot. Not bad for 45 cents each.

Soon you’ll get your sandwich. The French-style baguette comes with a layer of luscious pork. It’s topped with julienned, pickled carrot and jicama (or sometimes daikon), as well as cilantro, jalapenos, and a swath of mayo. The textures and tastes make this sandwich a masterpiece for the masses.

So, are we ready to crown a new deli champion? Not quite. Spring Roll House is most generous with the meat, and cheaper (by a quarter) at $1.75 per sandwich. Their jalapenos are also spicier, if you dig that like we do. But first trip there our meat was cold; they overcompensated the next time by cooking it a little too dry. Saigon Vietnam, in contrast, is consistent—and they also offer other tempting food. Still, we’ll give Spring Roll House another chance to see if the third time is the charm. While you might find a cheap chair inside either deli to munch down your sandwich, look for us in the parking lot—eating and enjoying in the car.

Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on January 26, 2007.

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