Banh Mi Saigon
photo by Robert Menzer
This hybrid deli and atelier (a-deli-ier?) on a populated stretch of Grand Street began life 25 years ago as a sandwich stall under the Manhattan Bridge, eventually partnering with a jewelry shop on Mott Street, where it stayed until 2010. The current location of Banh Mi Saigon — emblazoned with the shop’s name and still selling jewelry — serves some of the best banh mi sandwiches in the city. The baguette is baked in-house and eats best at lunchtime, when it retains ample chew. Carnivores score big with candied pebbles of roast pork, rich chicken-liver pâté, and gelatinous slices of Vietnamese pork roll, a type of forcemeat similar in taste and texture to bologna. The colossal demi-loaves are filled to bursting, reined in by a thin wrapping of deli paper. Ordering your sandwich “spicy” invites a fiery mosh pit of sliced jalapeños to the party; look to the refrigerated display cases for relief in the form of refreshing summer rolls, Vietnamese iced coffees and teas, and a selection of baked and liquid sweets, our favorite being the grass jelly-filled rainbow ice with coconut milk. Even sweeter? That righteous toe ring you picked up during lunch, you rascal.