Directly following my trip to Peru, I left on a research trip to the West Coast for two weeks. What was I researching? Glad you asked: a book on Stadium Eats! Um, yeah, without a deal in sight currently (hint, hint, anyone reading this who is interested!), I went to preemptively scout out the 6 West Coast stadiums and eat my way up and down the West Coast at the same time, starting in San Francisco, working my way down to Los Angeles, then San Diego, back up to San Francisco and then to Seattle! Phew! Tune in at 4:15 EST (or 1:15 PST, lunchtime on the West Coast) for the next 6 weeks to see what I ate and where I ate it… and how I gained 10 lbs in two weeks!
The next morning, after my extended nap – in my defense, I’d gone straight from the semester ending and finals to going to Peru and from Peru – this part still amazes me that I even bothered – I landed at 8:30am on a Sunday into NYC from Lima and headed to a game at Citi Field. Directly after that, back home to do laundry and pack for this two week trip. I was a tired girl! I needed a real vacation, not one where I was climbing mountains! – I was very hungry, and so, going on proximity, once again headed straight to Little Saigon a few blocks away and hit up Saigon Sandwich, the winner of my previous West Coast banh mi battle. I wanted to try some of their other sandwiches.
Though it was 9:30am – kind of early, I guess, for banh mi, for some people (not me!), there was a woman ahead of me ordering 4-5 sandwiches. I waited patiently while the proprietor chatted her ear off – they appeared to be friends – and made her sandwiches slooowly. I don’t fault the woman for having friends or for wanting to socialize, I really don’t – but I wish she hadn’t taken my order and then promptly messed it up. I tried to order a roast pork with pate and a fanci [sic] pork with pate… she was so busy gabbing that she didn’t ask me if I wanted it spicy, so she loaded it up with jalapeno slices… and forgot the pate. Luckily, I noticed the price discrepancy (it’s about 50c extra to put pate on a sandwich) and asked if there was pate on the sandwiches.
So she said oops, opened up the sandwiches, and then slathered on a crap-ton of pate. Unevenly into one side of the sandwiches, along the outer edges.
(She actually initially only put it on one, but I said oh, I want it on both, so she did the second one. She was visibly slightly annoyed at this point since I was directly cutting into her conversation. But honestly – then finish your conversation BEFORE you take care of my order!)
As you can see, there’s a ton of pate along one edge. The roast pork, above, actually edges out the fanci pork in my book. The roast pork was juicy, bursting with flavor, and added a nice fattiness to the banh mi, which remains a good balance of flavors, the way a banh mi should be in my opinion. The bread held up to the juiciness.
The fanci pork (or cha lua) this time had a ton of jalapenos on it that I only noticed because I was poking and prodding the sandwich, trying to take a good picture of it.
Yeah, I picked a lot of those off – the one or two slices I left on already made my tongue start tingling! I’m a total spice wuss!
Uneven pate again – but the sandwich was yummy, just a bit too heavy on the cha lua (“fanci pork”) which slid around a little as I bit into the sandwich. Again, a good balance of flavors and textures, with good bread. For $3.50, can you find fault with either of these sandwiches?
*I ate half of each for breakfast and wound up giving the other halves to a homeless guy that was between the store and my rental car. He seemed happy and grateful when I said there were two different sandwiches – I mean, he seemed familiar with the place, and he’d started off by asking me for food, so. (I imagine if I were homeless, I’d know all the super cheap but filling places in the city, too? Well, I try to already know those places, but you know what I mean.)
And to wash it all down? Mr. Brown iced coffee, which was, I believe, 50c. I don’t know the last time I paid this little for a can of anything, though it was smaller than your standard Pepsi/Coke can. Pretty yummy, I don’t think I’ve had this before though I do believe it’s available on the East Coast.
Yvo says: Again, still recommended – though I do have to try other banh mi places out there (any recommendations? suggestions?), this one is solidly delicious and super cheap. It’s a hole in the wall that has a tiny, grimy counter along the window with 3-4 short stools, where you can sit and eat your sandwich while the homeless people outside can peer in and watch you eat and try to make you feel guilty… but that’s part of the charm and appeal, right? Try not to order when the person taking your order is distracted by other things, but really, the roast pork sandwich is awesome. Super yum.