Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Banh Mi Saigon Bakery: A Crowd- and Wallet-Pleaser

Banh Mi Saigon Bakery is a delightful, spare deli-looking Vietnamese restaurant, really more a takeout counter with a few benches nearby, near the corner of Mott and Hester Streets in Chinatown. In a notable bit of space-saving bricolage, the bakery is simply square at the end of a small corridor full of counters displaying jewelry for sale.

The restaurant has only ten options for sandwiches, which are nearly its entire menu. I ordered #6, the Buddhist sandwich, and an ice coffee. The sandwich came big in two thick baguette cuts which were stuffed to the gills with mushrooms, kimchi-style pickled vegetables, and marinated cuts of tofu. Intermingled with it were what tasted like a chili mayonnaise and another, more piquant hot sauce. The cold of vegetables, the spice of the sauces, the warmth of the tofu, the heartiness of the baguette -- this was a world of variety, taste, texture, and all for $4.50 -- a $4.50 sandwich that could serve two for lunch!

This is clearly one of Manhattan's great lunch deals, and a superb sandwich, period.

Stars: 5/5

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