I discovered the banh mi at Spice Market, the trendy restaurant of Jean-Georges Vongerichten located in the Meatpacking district. They had the great idea to include this fantastic sandwich in their restaurant week menu and their version was spectacular. But how did it compare to an authentic, cheap one? That is what I would discover at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery, a small place located in Little Italy.
The place is small with a long shape; on the left of the entrance is a counter where they sell jewels, and in the back is the counter, overlooking the busy kitchen.
So, what is banh mi? it is a Vietnamese sandwich, banh meaning bread and mi, wheat. This tasteful sandwich reflects the French influence during the colonial period, during which the baguette was introduced.
At Banh Mi Saigon, you have close to ten different choices of banh mi, enough to satisfy the carnivore or the vegetarian. On my side, I decided to go for the Banh Mi Nem Nuong, or BBQ pork sandwich ($4.50).
Jodi got the Banh Mi Do Chay, a mixed vegetables sandwich ($3.50).
Imagine that for the prices I mentioned above, we got each a foot long sandwich that was tastier than some of the chains out there. My favorite was definitely the one I ordered with BBQ pork as it had this divine crunchiness and sweetness. Both tasted fresh (they had corrupts, cabbage...) and I truly appreciated that they put lots of fresh cilantro in the sandwiches. The bread was soft and, trust me, one sandwich was enough.
Would I go back to Banh Mi Saigon Bakery? Definitely! I certainly recommend it, whether you are on a budget or not. Next time, I will try their pork buns: I bet they are delicious.
Enjoy (I did)!
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