If you havent been reading KirkKs blog, you may not be aware that he is searching for San Diegos best banh mi. Trying to help (and what true hound wouldnt?) I went on a banh mi hunt last Thursday on my way out of town.
I figured the best place to look was in the natural habitat for banh mi, on University and El Cajon in the area around the Fairmont exit off of I-8. I started east on University and saw nothing from 43rd to Euclid, so I went over to El Cajon Blvd. Driving west, I spotted a sandwich place in the back of a strip mall at 47th, Kim Chan by name. The menu lists were confusing to me. First off, everything was in Vietnamese, and there seemed to be several lists of sandwiches as well as bun. I ordered a combination banh mi because it was the only English word I saw. The older man at the counter asked me if I wanted hot peppers. I said yes.
The sandwich was the best I've had in SD. Most banh mi Ive eaten are like ham sandwiches in Paris, a little bit of meat and a lot of great baguette. This banh mi did have a fine baguette, but there seemed to be a bit more of the meat, a wonderful overall balance of tastes, and good spiciness. The pickled veggies were more coarsely cut than usual, but with a nice flavor. There was also sliced cucumber and cilantro.
The sub was not as large as some but was only $2. Now thats a cheap, tasty lunch. Im not sure of all the details of the sandwich because I couldn't really deconstruct it as I was driving while eating (but at least I wasnt also talking on a cell phone). Anyway, I recommend Kim Chan, and I hope some of you who are more knowledgeable about banh mi will go there, decipher the menu, and try some of the other sandwiches offered. And if any of you out there know of other good banh mi spots, please post about them.