On Friday, as my photographer Rob I were covering the sentencing the sentencing of Home Run King Barry Bonds, I noticed we were in a specific section of the Tenderloin called Little Saigon.
I looked it up, and apparently in 2004, the city of San Francisco officially designated the two-block stretch of Larkin Street between Eddy and O'Farrell streets, as Little Saigon. About 15% of the city's Vietnamese-American residents live in that area, and the businesses in that corridor are predominantly Vietnamese. Enter a little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop called Saigon Sandwich.
It was recommended by the satellite truck operator from our sister station, NBC. It's no doubt well-known by the people who often find themselves covering courthouse proceedings, but I had never heard of it. From the outside, it looks nothing like a place you'd like to eat. An unassuming awning scribbled with graffiti and a tiny little shop with barely enough room for the two ladies making sandwiches. But as they say, don't judge a book by its cover. For starters, there was a line. Usually that's a pretty good sign. And secondly, check out the glowing reviews on Yelp. 4.5 stars in SF is usually a more than solid bet.
Despite Rob's hesitation, and him dubbing it a "death sandwich" before we even got to the front of the line...we were not disappointed. Rob got the roasted pork and I got the chicken banh mi. If you've never had a Vietnamese sandwich, you're missing out. The meat is generally marinated in some sort of lemongrass or five-spice flavoring, and they are served on a perfectly crunchy-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside roll, and topped with fresh vegetables like carrots, cilantro and jalapeños. I love, love, love them. Rob wasn't AS impressed...I think the exact quote was "I'm not doing backflips or anything, but it's pretty good. Especially the bread." I asked if maybe a half backflip was warranted, and he agreed it was.