Now, more than ever, it is important to keep supporting small businesses. Before your mind even goes there, yes, especially in ChinaTown. Not only will the businesses here feel the hurt from decreasing amounts of tourism and foot traffic, but also will feel the sting of racist assumptions and the racialized stigmas which are deeply ingrained in conversations surrounding the Coronavirus.
True “New Yorkers” have always been and always will be the most resilient kinds of people. There is rarely a time in which we will accept fear tactics that aim to restrict our way of life. This virus should be no different— especially for privileged people (like myself) who are in good health, are low-risk, have access to healthcare, external financial support, etc. It is important that we support each other during times where we may feel helpless or afraid. Community is our strongest weapon; don’t live in fear! Get out there and continue to support great small businesses like the Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli.
The restaurant is an extremely humble hole-in-the-wall. The floor is lined with large white tiles and the walls are covered in stainless steel. There is very limited seating. I would recommend some good old fashioned loitering via enjoying your sandwich on a comfy stoop if it’s nice outside. It takes about 5-10 minutes for the orders to be made, but that’s because these sandwiches are super fresh and made-to-order. Everything is under $10 and like most other best eats, this is a cash-only establishment.
Located at 369 Broome Street New York, NY 10013, this deli is a quick walk from the F, M, J, and Z trains. It is right on the border of the Lower-East Side and Chinatown which makes this a great stop if you only have a couple minutes to munch, in between other downtown festivities. It is situated right around the corner from the peanut noodle and dumpling spot I covered in this same column last year, in case you were looking to have a full Cheap Eats experience.
Not only are these Bahn Mi some of the most authentic Vietnamese eats I’ve found in Manhattan, they’re also gigantic. Realistically, for me, one sandwich could probably feed me two very satisfying meals. All of the elements of this sandwich were seasoned well. I’m interested in going back to try a vegan option. I had the #1, which is a classic Banh Mi; a fresh baguette stuffed to the brim with three different cuts of pork, pickled carrots and daikon radish, fresh herbs, and a thin layer of hollandaise sauce. I grew up around many second-generation Hmong immigrants which make all of the tangy, sweet, and fresh flavors nostalgic for me. The bread is what makes or breaks the peak banh mi experience, and the bread they use at this deli is the most heavenly balance of crunchy and soft. I have not tried the spring rolls, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish a sandwich AND a side, but they also looked fantastic (I will be making many follow-up trips for more the latter).