Friday, April 13, 2012

Saigon Sandwich (San Francisco)

I was staying at the moderately-seedy but conveniently-located Hotel Whitcomb in downtown San Franciso when I decided to stop by Saigon Sandwich for a quick banh mi breakfast. After finally managing to do a search using the hotel's extremely spotty Wi-Fi, I came across rave reviews on Yelp for this small sandwich shop located just blocks from where I was staying. Open from 7am-5pm daily, I was glad we would be able to get in for breakfast --- there are a bunch of other sandwich shops in the area, but they either didn't look as tasty or they didn't open till lunch-ish hours.

Special Combination Banh Mi ($4.00)

This place really shouldn't have been hard to find... but it was hard to find. We were at the correct intersection but couldn't find a restaurant sign for it anywhere. After pacing around for a few minutes, I realized that their canopy (with their restaurant name) had been taken down. The only way that I was able to recognize it was by leering into the small shop and recognizing the menu board that I'd seen photos of, on Yelp.

Storefront. Could not find this place for a while. They were missing their restaurant sign...?

The shop itself is teeny-tiny. There is just enough room for the ladies to work in the back (where you can see them make your sandwich), a counter positioned about a meter from the entrance which is where you place your order and can purchase miscellaneous snacks, and finally a small area in the front with their drink cooler and a few chairs where you can smush up against the window while you chow down.

Front counter - place your order here

Ladies working on sandwiches in the back
Menu Board

We stopped by around 10:30am that day and there was no lineup at all. I ordered the Special Combination banh mi ($4.00), while my boyfriend opted for the Roast Pork ($3.50) to eat right away and the Roast Chicken ($3.50) to eat on the road **.

We were planning on slowly making our way down Market Street towards the Ferry Building Marketplace that day, so we decided to sit at the few chairs at the front of the shop to eat our breakfast.

My Special Combination sandwich (pictured at top) was incredible. You bite into that freshly toasted crusty bun, and you're hit with the flavors of the meats & tofu. The pate was really what made this sandwich for me though -- their generous smear of pate on the inside of the bun just imparted so much flavor and worked well with fillings. Each bite is a little different, depending on which meat you happen to be biting into. Rounded off with the crispy crunch of the fresh vegetables, this sandwich is hard to beat at $4.00.

Banh Mi all wrapped up - We ate our sandwiches crammed up against the window (and enjoyed it)

I sampled a few bites from both of my boyfriend's sandwiches (Roast Pork and Roast Chicken). It was a pretty close call, but I liked the chicken just a bit more because the meat was more tender and less greasy (though neither sandwich was particularly heavy). Seasoning was great for both meats. The boyfriend liked the chicken slightly more as well, but they were both damn delicious and inhaled within minutes.

This place is awesome and didn't disappoint one bit; I'm usually not much of a big-breakfast person, but on this day I was literally giddy with delight after eating that sandwich at 10am. Highly recommended. The Combination Sandwich was definitely my favorite -- that pate (which you don't get in the roast meat sandwiches) is to die for when paired with the rest of the ingredients. While the place isn't really meant for you to hang out and enjoy your meal, you can't really ask for much more in a banh mi joint -- service was fast, food was delicious -- you cannot miss out on this place if you're in the area!

** The Roast Chicken sandwich was eaten within 3 blocks of leaving the store... not sure if this counts as "saved to eat on-the-road"

Food 5/5 - Banh mi done right -- one of the best that I've had. Fresh toasted bun, well-seasoned meats, crunchy veggies. My pick: Special Combination Banh Mi ($4.00)
Value/Price 5/5 ($3.50-$4.00 per sandwich)
Ambiance N/A - To-Go type restaurant
Service/Wait 4/5 - Fast service. No wait when we visited before lunch rush, but looks like a line would form during peak hours -- fortunately, the line seems to move quickly.
Overall 4.5/5

Saigon Sandwich
560 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA
(475) 474-5698

Saigon Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

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