Never in my wildest dreams could I have anticipated that which I was lucky enough to have received this past Saturday. This sandwich has attained the highest possible status and is one of those rare eating experiences that I will remember for life. I consider myself especially lucky to have finally manged on this fine treat, as I had not been so lucky in my two previous trips to the tiny stall in the belly of the Manhattan Bridge. I had been warned that supplies run low and that latecomers leave hungry, but had not heeded advice to arrive early. I documented my failure to attain banh mi greatness on my first outing to Saigon Banh mi, hidden under the Manhattan Bridge, in the East Broadway Mall. To reach this site comes close to being an adventure itself. Though the address as printed on their business card seems straight forward enough, the path to this munchy-mecca twists past a line of Fung-Wah-nabee buses all waiting to be boarded to destinations off the beaten path of Chinatown cheapee buses. No Boston or Philly weekends beckon for these travellers, only DC looms for these poor suckers. Cardboard boxes labelled "frozen pork" are stacked in the open storage area of one of these coaches, and I wonder how frozen they are now, and wether they will even be cold by the time they reach the capitol. The bridge's new bike path twists overhead as it makes it's final approach into Manhattan, it's steel beams and chain links are out of place against the older stone base of the bridge. Bums line the cold granite walls of the bridge, sleeping or passed out as I pass by on a mission. I never wrote to you all about my second trip to Saigon Banh Mi, I was too depressed at having been denied for the second time in a row. It started to seem like I would never get a shot at rating this 'wich. I was also worried that if I didn't succeed this third time around, my will would have been weakend to the point that I wouldn't make another attempt. Following the directive of the shop owner, who had told me in no uncertain terms that I had to arrive before one in the afternoon to ensure getting a sandwich, I resolved to arrive no later than twelve.
I can't believe how long this report has gotten, so suffice it to say that I got the sandwich, ate it and will be back every weekend for the rest of my life. I might live there next to the bums, so I can always be the first on line for the best banh mi in the world. The bread was properly toasted, the veggies were fresh, crunchy and maybe just a little too copius. I have never had better tasting pork in my life! There was a very generous amount of pork on the sanwich, and the cold cuts weren't half bad either (they're usually the cheapest available turkey roll, ham, salami, etc) The only complaint i could even consider mentioning is that there really wasn't alot of heat on the sandwich. They used sliced jalapenos, not those thin green red and orange chiles that really pack a punch. It's really not a big deal, but after reading someone's post that described looking around for the NYPD that must have sprayed his mouth with mace, I was expecting more of a scald. If you see me at banh mi so 1 or the place on canal street, it means that saigon banh mi is closed or out of Banh mi. Or I am there against my own will, in which case please call the authorities.
Saigon Banh Mi,
88 east Broadway Mall
Unit # 108
open Tuesday to Sunday, closed Monday