The banh mi from Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches are so delicious that weathered street gentlemen wake up from their pavement slumbers to come for lunch. This silly thought crossed my mind as I walked into the Vietnamese deli and saw the scruffiest man waiting in line for a sandwich. His straight-outta-Saigon get-up signaled that this place was gonna be good.
The Astronomer and I recently stopped into Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches to pick up some grub for our road trip up to The Bay. Danny of Kung Food Panda recommended it to us—it’s his go-to place for fulfilling unruly banh mi cravings. Vehicular banh mi consumption is a messy affair, but dealing with a few stray crumbs is a small sacrifice for enjoying the most satisfying of sandwiches.
We picked up three sandwiches for the road, from left to right, banh mi bi (pork skin), banh mi thit nuong (grilled pork), and banh mi dac biet (cold cuts galore). Each sandwich was priced at $2.25.
Thus far in my quest for stellar banh mi in the San Gabriel Valley, I’ve been disappointed by the baguettes. Unlike the airy fairy, rice floured specimens in Vietnam, the ones I encountered at Ba Le French Sandwich & Bakery, Bánh Mì & Chè Cali, and Bánh Mì Mỹ Tho were super-sized and thick.
I was pleased like you wouldn’t believe when I bit into Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches’ baguette. It provided excellent support, a pleasant crisp, and not too much fluff as to overwhelm the fixins. I appreciated how the baguette was substantial without being heavy. Bravo!
Of the trio of banh mi, The Astronomer and I adored the bi the most. The stringy bits of pork skin were well-seasoned and melded terrifically with the bread and pickled vegetables.
On our way out the door, the woman behind the counter gifted The Astronomer and me a long and lean baguette. Perhaps there was a “buy three sandwiches, get one baguette free” deal that we were unaware of. Or maybe the woman was just being nice.
A few days later, before loading up our car and departing for Los Angeles, we asked my aunt and uncle whom we were staying with in Redwood City for the name of a good place to grab banh mi for the road. “Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches,” they responded. Fancy that! It turns out that Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches is a chain four locations strong. There are two outlets in Little Saigon, in addition to the ones in San Gabriel and San Jose.
The prices in San Jose were 25 cents higher than at the San Gabriel branch, but fortunately, the bread and fixins were identical. This time around, we ordered another bi because it was our favorite, a xiu mai (meatballs), and a bi chay (vegetarian bi). All three were great.
I also picked up a wonderful snack called bánh dày kẹp chả, which was comprised of a thick slice of fried pork forcemeat sandwiched between two intensely sticky tapioca cakes. The cakes are so gooey and thick that choking is a real possibility, so do be careful.
With good tunes and even better eats, we were home in L.A. in no time.
Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches
718 East Valley Boulevard
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches
953 Mclaughlin Avenue
San Jose, CA 95122