Seattle: Eating My Way Through Little Saigon—Both of Them


Tony's Deli & Bakery

The Vietnamese community in Seattle has grown so big that there are now two "Little Saigons"—The older one, near Chinatown (around 12th Avenue South, along South Jackson Street), and the newer enclave in Ranier Valley (along MLK Jr. Way). In both areas, Viet Wah supermarkets are filled with the Asian and Latino foodstuffs that most other supermarkets ignore. But that didn't help me; I was on a specific quest to sample as many of those irresistible Vietnamese sandwiches known as banh mi as I could. Since banh mi are everywhere, there was a lot of territory to cover in just a few days. The best of these freshly-made sandwiches come on large crusty rolls or baguettes and are crammed with meats or tofu, sweet pickled daikon, carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, and onion. The best part, of course, is the BBQ meat, which you can choose—pork (sliced or shredded), sliced chicken, meatballs, a sausage called sour pork, a kind of headcheese, ham, or a paté spread. Or pick any combo from the list. After I tried some 25 banh mi, the results are in: Saigon Deli (on the corner of 12th and Jackson) has the tastiest fillings. Also excellent are Seattle Deli, Pho & Banh Mi, and New Saigon (all nearby, on either 12th or Jackson). In a class by itself, Tony's Deli & Bakery (on MLK Jr. Way) wins special mention for seasoning its meat with soy and fish sauces. Since banh mi never costs more than $2 per sandwich, I didn't spend much money on food this trip. The only complaint: My feet are killing me.

Subscribe to Gourmet