Saigon Sandwich Shop

by KimHo on November 24, 2010 · 5 comments under: Food,Restaurant,Travel



Saigon Sandwich Shop
560 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA
Saigon Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

Once Sherman and I were back from Hamburgers in Sausalito, we took a detour to visit one of the places where FoodBuzz Food Bloggers Festival was taking place. However, while there was a bit of chaos, at least it wasn’t the gong show you would see in open public events like Eat Vancouver! Even then, we were only there to make a token appearance and we left short after. Why the hurry? Well, in a quid pro quo, I agreed to go with Sherman to a banh mi shop in, out of all places in San Francisco, in the Tenderloin area. Considering going to such places does no faze me, hey, why not! The place’s name? Saigon Sandwich Shop.

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco, Tenderloin, Vietnamese, Vietnam, Larkin, banh mi, sandwich, pork, roast, thit, cha, pate, lua, fanci, fancy, special, pate, pickled, vegetable

It is quite evident from the screenshot above this ain’t a fancy place. However, they have a claim to fame: their banh mi/Vietnamese sub/sandwich are supposed to be really good. How good? Well, would you believe there was a queue that stretch out of this shop almost to the corner of the street? Just in case, again, this is in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco and the customers were pretty much from all ways of life. If it can attract everybody, they are certainly doing something right.

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco, Tenderloin, Vietnamese, Vietnam, Larkin, banh mi, sandwich, pork, roast, thit, cha, pate, lua, fanci, fancy, special, pate, pickled, vegetable

Simple menu, that’s all you need to know. OK, this ain’t a restaurant per se, it is a small shop of sorts but I am willing to bet they make most of their revenues from this small menu than the rest. Having said that, we were debating what to order and settled for two to have a good representation (hopefully) of what they were good at. (And this is despite we were partially full already after the burgers from Hamburgers and the stuff we had at the FoodBuzz convention!).

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco, Tenderloin, Vietnamese, Vietnam, Larkin, banh mi, sandwich, pork, roast, thit, cha, pate, lua, fanci, fancy, special, pate, pickled, vegetable

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco, Tenderloin, Vietnamese, Vietnam, Larkin, banh mi, sandwich, pork, roast, thit, cha, pate, lua, fanci, fancy, special, pate, pickled, vegetable

Behold, their roasted pork banh mi and their special combination banh mi . Of course, visuals ain’t too relevant here as, from the outside, it is pretty much the same. Rather, it is what’s inside… In both cases, it was a baguette filled with the appropriate meats and then some vegetables. Sorry, too generic of a description but, let’s face it, it is what it is. Instead, it was how does the final product tasted.

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco, Tenderloin, Vietnamese, Vietnam, Larkin, banh mi, sandwich, pork, roast, thit, cha, pate, lua, fanci, fancy, special, pate, pickled, vegetable

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco, Tenderloin, Vietnamese, Vietnam, Larkin, banh mi, sandwich, pork, roast, thit, cha, pate, lua, fanci, fancy, special, pate, pickled, vegetable

Starting with the bread… Well, it depends on how you like yours. If you are expecting sort of an airy type bread (similar to, say, Ba Le here in Vancouver), sorry, this is a bit denser than that. Now, it wasn’t hard either, just that, compared to the before mentioned Ba Le (and other banh mi found in Vancouver), it felt the baguette was borderline a regular baguette. Not necessarily wrong (no authenticity police running amok here) but different set of expectations. As for the vegetables, it was mostly carrots, though with some token daikon radish and cilantro. Oh, yeah, jalapeño peppers! The oddity, though, wasn’t the proportion of vegetables but the distribution. I gave Sherman the choice to choose first and, in both instances, he chose the side loaded with the peppers while mine didn’t have any. In fact, for the second sub, he played safe by opening the sandwich and removed them before biting into it! And I was wondering why Sherman was complaining it was hot! As for the meats, well, they were moist, full or pork taste. Sorry, won’t go into further details as I might be doing some injustices (in both ways), as while not earth shattering it did make the sandwich taste good. The ham, though was a bit odd, it didn’t add but didn’t detract. One detail I thought was missing was the absence of pate (either that or I didn’t really taste it). While the roast pork does not necessarily had to have it, the special one technically should have but I thought it was MIA. Still, a good sandwich nevertheless. But, given the special had pork and other ingredients, would I go for it rather than the stand alone pork? Actually, I will stick with the stand alone roasted pork because, well, I like pork! If I had to choose, this would be a case where I wanted to savour that one ingredient, hehehe.

All in all, this place is what it is: For $3 and change you get a (Vietnamese) sandwich. You obviously don’t go for the ambiance or service (with such a long queue, it was more on the lines of order and just wait). You go because you believe something good is served. And, from that perspective, they delivered.



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karl November 24, 2010 at 1:00 am

Somewhere back in the mid-nineties I was planning my second trip to SF. The Internet was about a year or so old. I downloaded (very slowly), a cheap eats article from the SF Chronicle. From one of their recommendations I chose a Vietnamese sandwich joint in the Tenderloin (could be the same one). I was instantly addicted…a flavor combo like I’d never imagined! They were a buck apiece; about half your regular-sized banh mi, wrapped in cling film, and absolutely delicious. I bought six more the next day. Saved one for the plane home. Only then did I realize that they don’t travel well.

2 Elaine November 24, 2010 at 1:50 am

You know what, I have never had banh mi before…hahaha…O_O I have no idea why…

3 KimHo November 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Karl, ah, good memories, eh? Chances are most likely this one! :D

Elaine2, oh, c’mon, what is in a banh mi that you don’t like and prevents you from getting one? ;)

4 Chris November 25, 2010 at 11:03 am

I commend your appetite Kim. It’s massive.

5 KimHo November 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Chris, let’s just say that, after I came back from San Fran, I had to dearly pay for it… ^_^;;;

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