Monday, November 12, 2012

Saigon Sandwiches for the Win

My winner on election day 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunlight, 80 degrees, and a patriotic spirit propels me toward the Civic Center (though not before stopping at Whole Foods for a free cup of I-just-voted coffee).  City Hall looks the same as always, no last-ditch pro-Obama rallies or anti-Romney tirades, just a solitary table laid out with voter information and one man in a baseball cap holding a sign that said "vote" with an arrow pointing inside.  This lack of demonstration seems very un-San Francisco.

Bored, hot, and hungry, I continue toward UN Plaza for Tuesday's Off the Grid hoping to score a cheap lunch from some yet untried truck.  The daily options all veer toward meaty with brisket sliders from Old World Food Truck and pork belly buns from Chairman Bao, all of which feel too heavy for the weather.

This day warrants something fresh, something leafy, something light but still filling. This day demands a bahn mi.

Just a few seedy blocks north of the Civic Center lies Little Saigon. There, smack in the tenderest part of the tenderloin stands legendary banh mi shop, Saigon Sandwiches.

Joining the line of devotees crammed inside, I wait only 45 seconds to place my order, thanks to an efficient system consisting of one woman taking orders without collecting payment while two others speedily stuff and wrap the sandwiches. You pay upon receiving your sandwich. And what you pay is absurd.

$3.50 scores you a toasted baguette loaded with long flat sheets of fried tofu (or pork or chicken or meatball or pate), shredded carrots, jalapenos, cucumbers, and an overgrowth of cilantro all sticking together by the faintest spread of of mayo. The vegetables and tofu are left long rather than chopped, which helps the ladies save prep time. It also proves the superfluity of chopping vegetables for sandwiches, since you tear them apart bite by bite anyway.

Note that Saigon Sandwiches occupies a dinky space furnished with only two seats by the window.  However, because it is so small, everyone orders his or her sandwich to-go, which means at least one of those two seats is almost always empty.

Election day is about winners and losers, and Saigon Sandwiches is destined for a long and popular term.

560 Larkin Street (between Turk and Eddy)

(415) 474-5698

1 comment:

  1. Sandwiches sound so appealing -- delicious fillings at a terrific price. Thanks for the tip.