Best Fast Food - 2009
Saigon Banh Mi Bakery; Ba Xuyen
RobtS: I've got to admit that whenever I want some fast food, I get on my bike and pedal to the best banh mi shop in town. SarahDG: Hey, you were just telling me about how dull Vietnamese food had become! RobtS: A real banh mi, untinkered with, is still a joy to behold. Luckily, I don't often have to pedal far from the Voice building. My favorite is still Saigon Banh Mi Bakery, which is the place that used to cower in a tiny stall under the Manhattan Bridge. The place they moved in to a couple of years back isn't much larger. Now, they're in the back of a jewelry store. They used the extra space for an actual bakery to make their own demi-baguettes. SarahDG: Yum. RobtS: Banh mi number one is still a dream: homemade sausage with a bit of that rubbery pâté, with house-pickled veggies, mayo, cilantro, and fresh jalapeños. SarahDG: Well, if you're going to turn this into a banh mi battle, I'll go to bat for Ba Xuyen. It's still the best in the city, with a fluffy, crusty baguette that cuts the roof of your mouth. RobtS: That's not even my favorite banh mi place in Sunset Park. SarahDG: You like Thanh Da better? It's pretty great, too, but at Ba Xuyen, the old ladies who make the banh mi don't smile much, but they know how to slather on the pâté, mayo, Sriracha, and fat slices of jalapeño. There must be some correlation. The older and more unsmiling your cook is, the more delicious the food is likely to be. RobtS: LOL, I thought the adage was, "The fatter the cook, the better the food"! SarahDG: That works, too! At Ba Xuyen, I like the number one. It's filled with a ton of very funky pâté squished in with the pork roll and ham. Sometimes, I like to go for sardine—or the barbecued pork when I want to be babied. RobtS: So, to synopsize this thread: Always get the first banh mi on the menu.