Banh Mi Saigon, Westminster, CA
For all the fuss I kick up about trying to find a good sandwich, one of the best sandwiches in the world must be the Vietnamese concoction known as banh mi. Since I was passing by Little Saigon on my way up to LA, I veered off the 405 today to try to find a sandwich shop at random. After passing by so many pho shops that I lost count, I finally pulled into one shopping center to try my luck at finding a dedicated sandwich shop. And what do you know...in blazing letters right in front of me there was a shop called Banh Mi Saigon (I think it was at 8940 Westminster Avenue?). No doubt there were plenty of other places to buy sandwiches in this vast area if I wanted to (I heard that Lee's Sandwiches is a big competing franchise). The cool thing was that it was almost like a Vietnamese Subway, with a wide selection of meat and fillings at your disposal, including round bread in case you prefer that over the usual baguette.
I opted for something that didn't seem to be on the menu boards, but one that I knew would be available: the dac biet, or the "special," which means that nearly everything is in it. I don't even know what mystery meat was in here (I think some BBQ'd pork and such?), but the key to making these sandwiches work was the cilantro, fresh jalapeno pepper slices, pickled carrots, and pate, all on a fresh crunchy and mildly sweet baguette (think: French colonial influence). Awesome. This stuff seriously rocks, and it was all only US$1.75. Sure, the portions aren't much, but I heard that there are places that you can buy two and get a third for free. And this was a lot better than a sandwich that I once got at PhoChine back at Wisma Atria. Too bad that there aren't more Vietnamese immigrating to Singapore...I would be all over something like this if someone would just do it right.