We should start, then, with perfection.
This is a bánh mì from Saigon Bánh Mì, and it is the best sandwich in America. Now, I have not eaten every sandwich in America, and I do not aspire to. The conclusion that this sandwich is the best was not reached by poll, not by formula, not by proclamation. It simply is. The #1 from Saigon Bánh Mì is not an appeal to reason, it is an argument for sandwiches as a religion.
The namesake sandwich at Saigon Bánh Mì is listed as #1 on the handwritten menu board, and if we’re being completely honest here it is similarly inscribed in my heart. The sandwich is not complicated, and it is the pursuit of perfection of a classic formula that seems to raise the sandwich above its competitors. A baguette grilled to a crunch holds seasoned, diced pork grilled to chewy perfection. Cilantro makes its distinct mark, shredded onion and carrot join cucumber to contrast the pork with a bit of fresh snap, and a slice of pork roll and a bit of mayo smooth things out, bringing it all together. It is everything a sandwich should be, it is flavorful and complete. Rather than merely holding things together, the bread accentuates the overall sandwich.
Saigon Bahn Mi is located in the back half of a jewelry store. After you order your sandwich you can stand there as the jewelry store employees stare at you, no doubt long tired of people who take up space but don’t buy any jade Buddha pendants. I have always felt it a little bit awkward, but before long you surrender your four dollars and leave holding the crowning achievement of the entire sandwich industry. This is the finest sandwich.