I recently went to the Saigon Deli in the Little Saigon area of the 12th and Jackson to try their take on this staple, and had an overall pleasant experience. The deli is a work of art, full of tiny packages of brightly colored foods tightly wrapped in cellophane or steaming on a hot tray. I ordered a tofu sandwich, my meat lovin dining companion got a BBQ pork sandwich, and together we got a Styrofoam tray of tofu spring rolls and one of the many mysteriously wrapped packages that lined the shelves. I chose a tight foil wrapped log in blind hopes that it was full of some sort of sweet coconut rice.
I judge a Bahn Mi based upon a few things:
- Is the bread fresh? The Bahn Mi is made on a full miniloaf of French bread, and when it is stale the sandwich becomes a hard to eat, boring beast that mercilessly nicks the insides of the mouth.
- Is the tofu fresh? The usual (less desirable) type of tofu used in these sandwiches tends to be dry and deep fried. I prefer it to be freshly cooked and soft instead of chewy and fried.
- Is there too much mayonnaise on the sandwich? A common sauce solution is mayonnaise and Sriracha , and I don't like it when there is too much mayonnaise.
- What temperature is the sandwich? They most definitely shine when they are warm, and are least interesting cold from a refrigerator.
- The rest of the fillings... these tend to include julienned carrots, fresh cilantro, spears of cucumber, sometimes thin rice noodles, pickled radish, thinly sliced onions, and fresh jalapeno. The lamer versions tend to come with a leaf or two of cilantro and a few wimpy strips of carrot and cucumber, whereas the stellar versions are packed with veggies, pickled and fresh, and a bush of fragrant cilantro.
The tofu sandwich at Saigon Deli broke the mold a bit in that the tofu used had been simmering in a rich red tomato sauce as part of their hot deli items. The tomato sauce took the place of the mayo/sriracha combination. The bread was semi fresh (but was freshly toasted, which added bonus points), and the innards were plentiful. It felt hearty and was definitely tasty, and I enjoyed it very much even though it was a bit of a departure from the standard.
The silver log ended up being a disappointment, as it was packed full of some sort of homogenized light beige meat product. Oh well.
The tofu Banh Mi was $2.00, and the pork was $2.50.
(206) 322-37001237 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144