Banh Mi Saigon Bakery (198 Grand St, between Mulberry and Mott) is a bit of a curiosity. You know what you’re going to get when you get there, a sandwich, duh, I mean hell, it’s right in the name “BAHN MI” and yet, when you walk in, under the gigantic ‘saigon bakery’ sign, there’s a jewelry store. Now, maybe the owners are diversifying their portfolio or something, but who gets sandwiches and jewelry at the same place?
Nom nom nom, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to grab some jade bracelets, how handy!”
When I heard of this place, everyone says it’s “in the back of a jewelry shop” and I imagined I’d have to walk through rows and rows of a crowded jewelry store, past a pile of boxes, under the secret curtains and then give the password to be let in, as though I was meeting an arms dealer in a crowded bazaar. What is actually there is a lot more pedestrian (and sanitary). The fact of the matter is that the place is a sandwich shop that happens to have a small jewelry counter in the front. Most people are there for sandwiches and there’s zero confusion about how to find it, kind of disappointing.
The sandwich is delicious. I got the pork banh mi ($4.50) and was too full to have the usual second lunch. The sandwich is huge and cheap. I could barely finish the thing and was totally full. You can dissect the photos below, but it’s packin’ nuggets of roasted pork, cucumber spears, some weird processed pork product (stand in for pate?) and some julienned carrots and cucumbers. The bread it a bit chewy and rather filling, but not terrible. The whole thing tastes like alternating cool and crunchy, sweet and veggie. It’s pretty good, though by the end of the second half I was pretty much done with the sweet pork.
If you’re in the area and hungry, definitely worth a stop. I don’t know that I’d bother traveling across town for it though. On second thought, if the jewelry is this big for this cheap, maybe I should get some while I’m here…