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Vietnamese Sandwiches in Vancouver


Posted by : Guest Blogger, Fri, May 16 2008

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I'm a big fan of Vietnamese food. It's cheap, it's fast and it seems to be everywhere in this city. When eating out, I usually stick to my favorites: pho (beef noodle soup), salad rolls or some kind of vermicelli dish. But for the past few years there's been a lot of buzz about Vietnamese sandwiches. However, I'm not easily convinced. You see, despite the rather unfortunate name of my food blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches, I'm not really a sandwich-type gal. I'm definitely a picky eater, but when it comes to sandwiches, I can be a downright snob. So when my husband suggested that we try out the new Vietnamese sandwich shop down the street, I said, "No way! I hate sandwiches!" Luckily, I changed my mind mighty quick when he went ahead and brought me back a banh mi the next day for lunch. One bite and I was convinced... this is a great sandwich!

A Banh Mi is a Vietnamese street sandwich that reflects Vietnam's colonial past: French (baguette and pate) with Asian ingredients (cilantro, pickled daikon, chilies). They come with a variety of fillings (pork, chicken, meatball) and all are dressed with a sensory mixture of pickled julienned carrots and daikon, cilantro, onion, Asian mayo and green hot peppers.

In many sandwiches, the condiments take a back seat to the main ingredient. But in a banh mi, it's the condiments that play the starring role, no matter what else you manage to stuff inside.  

A few days later, we had a yearning for another sandwich so my husband and I headed into Chinatown to the same shop, the Kim Saigon. This sandwich counter occupies the front of the Golden Garden Vietnamese restaurant and while this is a relatively new shop, the counter lady is the same woman who ran the sandwich counter at the now defunct Asia Market where she quickly became known for her banh mis.

There are six different sandwiches to be had at the Kim Saigon, and while the bacon banh mi seemed interesting, I decided to play it cool and order the vegetarian while my husband ordered the shredded chicken. The woman got to work, cutting into the fresh baguettes, using her chopsticks to stuff our sandwiches and then briefly toasting them in a hot oven. Wrapped up in wax paper and a napkin, the one with the green elastic, she said, was mine.

When I said that it's the fixins that make the banh mi what it is, at Kim Saigon, the vegetarian sandwich is just that: condiments to the max! Besides the standard ingredients, these sandwiches come with crispy toasted onions, adding another depth of flavour to this already savoury sandwich. And there is no skimping on the ingredients either-everything is super fresh and quite filling. The bread is no slouch either; the warm crust shatters as I take a bite and the perfect chewy-softness of the bread helps to pillow all of those pickled vegetables and sprigs of cilantro. A few more bites later and it's all a happy memory. And with every sandwich priced at $3.15, it's a great bargain too. I guess I like sandwiches more than I thought because I'm already thinking about my next banh mi.

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Kim Saigon
509 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 685-5623

Jeannette Ordas is a Vancouver-based Web Designer and Food Blogger who is probably right now thinking about what she'll make for dinner. 

Bazaar's Restaurant posts are featured every Friday.

Posted: Fri, May 16 2008 by Guest Blogger

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