I had some errands to run in Chinatown today and it was amazingly 60 degrees outside, so my plan was to get a ton of exercise and steps by walking downtown, stopping for lunch halfway along the way. But when I finally left, it was after 2 and it was starting to sprinkle, so I ended up biking instead. I was going to keep to my original plan and just stop halfway and then walk, but then it occurred to me - I could just keep biking until I got to Chinatown and then get myself banh mi!
It's no secret that we both love banh mi. I think the majority of our Vietnamese posts on this blog have been posts about banh mi. While I do love Banh Mi Saigon, my choice this time was Saigon on Broome Street, another spot we like. (I don't think it's related to the Saigon Baguette A went to, but that place has sadly closed since his post.) It's a tiny place with a choice of about 10-12 sandwiches that does mostly takeaway. A and I had gone before back in the spring where we enjoyed the house special with grilled pork, thit nguoi, and cha lua. It was basically the standard banh mi with cold cuts that you can try at lots of places and it was among our favorites of this type. We thought it was so good and we definitely wanted to go back and try more.
Today I got the banh mi xieu mai. The meat on this banh mi was pork and water chestnut meatballs. I didn't really notice the water chestnuts, but the meatballs were so good. Unlike some of the other meatball sandwiches we've had before where the meat is more like a crumble or just dense meatballs, these meatballs were so soft and juicy. Combined with the spicy sauce they put on it (which adds a little heat, but is quite bearable, unlike the places that load on jalapenos to make it spicy), they were so tasty. As I bit into the sandwich and tasted my first bite, my primary thought was that it was totally worth putting off lunch until 3 pm to get a taste of that delicious sandwich.
I don't know how Saigon makes sandwiches that are so much better than some of the other places. The bread is fresh and has just the right amount of crispness (so perfect that I even enjoy eating the ends, which coming from me is saying something), the vegetables (cucumber, cilantro, carrots, daikon) are such good quality and add so much brightness, and so far both types of protein we've had have been great. I also love the way they package the sandwiches. Each half gets wrapped in a separate paper bag with a rubber band, which makes it so easy to eat on the go or to split like we did the first time. I wish we could transport Saigon up to our neighborhood so we could try every single sandwich variation, but I think we're just going to have to bike down there more for some great banh mi.