You might think that while I have been to Vietnam, the best vegetarian banh mi sandwich I’ve ever had would have been there. Right??? Wrong!!!
Truth be told, I sought out what was reviewed as the best vegetarian banh mi sandwich in all of Saigon and was beyond disappointed. Let’s go as far as saying that I showed up absolutely starving at the restaurant, hated the sandwich so much that I picked out all of the fillings and basically ate plain bread with tomato and lettuce on it. That’s how hungry I was….and disappointed.
The sandwich I had in Saigon wasn’t even close to the real thing (well, the absolute real version is served with pork, but the real vegetarian concotion should have tofu, cucumbers, carrots, daikon, cilantro, jalapenos and mayo on a French baguette). The one I had in Saigon used some kind of soy product for what looked like fake meat slices, but even so, none of the other real and expected toppings were on there.
So, imagine my shock and sadness when I am sitting in a café in Saigon, extremely hungry and dreaming of the best banh mi sandwich half a world away in New York City. Huh? I know…I was baffled too.
A few years ago, my friend Nisha had introduced me to my first banh mi sandwich in New York (turns out nothing has compared to this one yet)! Ironically, it was across the street from one of my most favorite NYC establishments, Kati Roll (you can read my previous post about that here). The place Nisha took me to is called Saigon Shack and let me tell you, their sandwich is awesome.
The seasoned tofu is fantastic and has such a nice flavor that you don’t even realize it is tofu. All the other fresh ingredients are great, but I think the real star of this sandwich is the warm, crusty French bread. The bakers at Saigon Shack got it right. The bread really is an important part of this popular Vietnamese staple! And, Saigon Shack switches it up a little and does not use mayo on their version of the veggie sandwich. Honestly, you won’t even know the difference because of all the great flavor from the tofu (and you’ll save a few calories too)!
The moral of the story is that you don’t have to go all the way to Saigon for the best veggie banh mi sandwich. I’ve found mine in Greenwich Village in NYC! Where’s your favorite banh mi sandwich at?