Credit: Mark Hancock
There’s nothing I hate more than a boring sandwich.
Well, that’s not true. I hate a lot of things more, but I don’t come into contact with them nearly as often as I do boring sandwiches. Rarely, for instance, do I step inside a restaurant and witness genocide. But lots of places have boring sandwiches.
And I suppose that’s because there are a lot of boring people who want two slices of textureless bread around some dry, flavorless turkey and cheese that tastes like it came from glum cows.
Those people should stay away from Banh Mi Ba Le/Saigon Baguette/The Milk Bottle, because although the place serves simple sandwiches, they’re far from boring. This humble shop trafficks in a delicious sandwich that combines Vietnamese flavors with good French bread, called the banh mi.
The recipe is an easy one: Fill a chewy, crusty section of baguette with pork or chicken or lunch meat or meatballs, then add in onion, jalapeño, radish, cilantro and cucumber. What you have is both a sandwich and a stick of flavored dynamite. Take a bite and wait for the explosion.
Another thing you should know:
Saigon Baguette is cheap — almost suspiciously cheap. A sandwich is $2.50, tax included. Ponder that for a moment and ask yourself this question: Is this the first step in an alien invasion?
These sandwiches are tasty and, at only $2.50, you can afford more than one. Now you’re getting fat off delicious roast pork and bread. And what if there’s a mind-control agent in the sauce? These aliens have an army of overweight slaves ready to heed their commands!
But I digress. I’ve tried and enjoyed all of the varieties Saigon Baguette offers, but the one I keep going back for is the barbecue pork. It’s a little sweet and a little spicy. Add in those peppers and you’ve got something that sets my mouth and eyes watering.
Several people swear by the Saigon sub, which includes pork, lunch meat and pâté, but
it’s probably the one I’m least likely to try again. Oh, and for those
who don’t dig on swine, there’s a chicken banh mi, as well.
you choose, take some time to savor the star of the sandwich that most
people forget: the bread. The baguette works perfectly with these
fillings, demanding that diners actually chew the bread to eat it,
rather than letting it dissolve into your mouth like some discount
grocery store’s white bread.
said, I know some people who don’t even get sandwiches and I can’t even
blame them. While the banh mi is Saigon Baguette’s big draw, the
restaurant also makes some amazing deep-fried egg rolls that are, for my
money, the best in the city.
greasy, crispy rolls are too good to skip, even if they’re part of a
long-term plan to subjugate the human race by our soon-to-be overlords.
Use the sweet chili dipping sauce that’s included and you are in for a
treat. Oh, and they’re also incredibly cheap. Three rolls will run you
A sandwich, three egg rolls and a drink costs less than $6. Surely there’s something amiss about all this, right? Well, kind of.
Don’t plan to eat in
the Milk Bottle. All that food is to go, so you should get going and
find a spot to sit outside. Oh, and bring cash. The Conquerors From
Beyond the Stars won’t take credit cards.
drive on over to Saigon Baguette and park in the old Cao Nguyen lot.
Pay a pittance for a feast and say “good-bye” to boring sandwiches. (And
“hello” to your new extraterrestrial rulers.)
Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.