Banh Mi: Beyond the Mystery of the Vietnamese Deli


A couple of months ago I made note of the banh mi at Spring Roll House, one of the many Vietnamese delis where you can get delicious sandwiches on the cheap to eat at home or office—or, like me, in the car. The place is a bit tricky to find and it’s in an area full of similar delis, making it hard to choose. As consistency varies at these places, Saigon Vietnam Deli is my go-to place for a reliably good sandwich.


But I wanted to give another place a try. So I sauntered over to Saigon Deli. (Yes, the names get confusing; plus, there are several Saigon Delis in Seattle!) This deli can be intimidating; the view from the outside is obscured, some signs are in Vietnamese, and much of the food is unidentifiable (all kinds of crazy colors and textures) if you’re new to the cuisine. You can always request a rice box and point to the items you want to go in it. Or order off the banh mi board. Prices in the banh mi marketplace have gone up recently, but the sandwiches are still a big bargain, in the $2.00-2.50 price range here.

As always, I tried my favorite: the barbecued pork sandwich. It’s very similar in quality to what Saigon Vietnam Deli serves, which might explain why some people think these places are related. (Anyone know if they are?) I wouldn’t hesitate to return here. If you go, I’d encourage you to be adventurous and try something new and different. The prices are right. And you might unearth some treasure. I did. Usually, to save money, I keep water bottles in the car, but not this time. So I was poking around looking at grass jelly drinks and the like when I found a glass bottle of mango-flavored Jarritos soda, with natural sugar instead of fructose. Little did I realize I’d be enjoying a Vietnamese-Mexican meal!

Cross-posted at Examiner.

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