Lunch: How does Paris Sandwich stand up to the Banh Mi in Saigon?

December 21st, 2010
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After writing up my Five Tips for Eating Banh Mi in Saigon, I found myself craving another Vietnamese sandwich. On my last trip down to Chinatown, when I went to Banh Mi Saigon, I noticed Paris Sandwich across the street and added it to my mental to-do list, so this time I decided to give it a try…


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Paris Sandwich is a more straight ahead bakery and sandwich shop that either that stands I saw in Vietnam or the quirky jewelry store/fast food combo across the street at Banh Mi Saigon. Behind the counter rows of different flavored baguettes are on display from regular to garlicky and so on. There are also various other baked goods on display, but I was there for the sandwiches, so I wasn’t looking too closely to all that.
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Right in the window, there is a poster up listing the types of sandwiches available. After seeing the variations available in Saigon, I decided to move away from my typical ‘classic,’ which I tend to use as my baseline for first visits. Instead, I went for the Barbecue Pork, which made me think of the spit-roasted pork at Bánh Mì Như Lan.
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Before I go any further, I will mitigate my opinion by noting that I did take the sandwich to go and waited another 20 minutes for the D Train before eating it. Given that most of the sandwiches I had were room temperature, I don’t think that makes as much of a difference to me as it would have a month ago.
That said, I was very disappointed with the sandwich. The bread was fine, if a little too sweet and chewy for my taste. The real problem was with the meat. Which is sort of a big deal. The barbecue pork was dry and crumbly. It wasn’t remotely appealing. They fell all over the place when I split the sandwich, so I popped a few in my mouth and found them to be tough and not particularly tasty.
Maybe if I had stuck to my routine and tried the classic, here called the Paris Special, with it’s piles of different sliced meats instead of venturing into new territory, I’d have been more satisfied. As it was, given the time it took me to get down to Chinatown from my office, the Barbecue Pork left me particularly unhappy. When I told a co-worker whose family is Chinese and Korean about my excursion, she got particularly excited and promised to send me a list of her favorite places. Hopefully the next trip will yield a better experience. Stay tuned.

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