I’ve been driving by Saigon Deli for a while now. I wanted to try it after reading favorable reviews on Urbanspoon. I jones for banh mi often and Seasons is just too far to go for a sandwich, so I was hoping Saigon Deli could serve as a stand-in. Thanks to a little break in my schedule, I was able to meet Hubby there for lunch last Friday, May 10th.
We got there about 12:15 and the place was busy. Every inside table was taken. I noticed that most of the patrons were Asian (presumably Vietnamese), which I expected based on comments from an Urbanspoon reviewer (“Randy Ifurung”). While waiting in line at the register to order, one of the gentlemen who runs the place asked us if we wanted a table. When we said yes, he assured us the gentleman at the corner table was leaving and we could have that table once they cleared it. By the time we ordered, we were able to sit.
At that point I had time to take a good look around. There is a small “market” area in the front by the register that sells…well, some kind of foods that I couldn’t identify. Which means the place must be pretty authentic. The restaurant isn’t fancy but it is a pretty good size. Each table is a four-top and is set with a tray of condiments, napkins, flatware, and chopsticks.
After a short wait, our food came. I had ordered #37, grilled pork banh mi ($3), and a Vietnamese black iced coffee ($2). Hubby ordered the grilled pork over broken rice with an egg (not sure how much it was) and two Diet Cokes (which you’re free to retrieve yourself from the cooler in the back – the waitress will bring you ice if you want it).
I bit in to my sandwich…and quickly realized there was a problem. Upon closer inspection of the sandwich and the menu, I discovered I had mistakenly gotten #36 (which is headcheese, pâté, and sliced pork). Definitely not my cup of tea. I took the sandwich up to the register and explained to the man what had happened and he couldn’t have been nicer. He said, “No problem, we’ll make you another one.” The silver lining here is that I’ve always wanted to try that stuff but never was brave enough to order it. Now I can say I’ve had it and definitely don’t like it.
Just a few minutes later, my #37 came out, hot and fresh. I took a bite: THAT was what I wanted. Bread that’s crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, sweet and salty grilled pork, and lots of veggies. The sandwich was pretty big, too. I’d guess it was 8”-10”. My iced coffee was a delicious pick-me-up. It was about the size (and strength) of a double shot of espresso with plenty of sugar in it. (You can also get it with condensed milk.)
I also had a bite of Hubby’s lunch. His was really fantastic, too. If you’ve never had broken rice before, you gotta have it, at least once. And if you’ve never had Vietnamese food, it’s one of those great “gateway” foods. It’s familiar enough to be palatable to the uninitiated but still introduces some of the foundational flavors of the cuisine.
We highly recommend Saigon Deli for a cheap, quick lunch if you’re in the area.