Last week while doing my mid-evening scroll through my Facebook feed, an interesting event suggestion jumped out at me - 2017 Banh Mi Fest! I immediately shared it via Facebook message to the boyfriend, who was sitting across the room at the time.
Even though I lived just a block away from the International District for nearly a year, I hadn't done much exploring in the area. The one time I did, I ended up with horrible food poisoning and swore off noodle soups for a couple months. That's a story for another day, though.
We arrived at the location on King Street, to find a swarm of people around eight or so food vendors. Given the extremely warm weather that day, there were a few ice cream and other cold treat vendors to choose from. Otherwise, there was only a small number of Banh Mi vendors! The one that seemed to have the best options had a horribly long line, of course.
After taking a spin around the entire festival to make sure we hadn't missed any other vendors and acknowledging we were too hungry to wait in an approximately hour long line, we searched for the best banh mi in the ID. We narrowed our options to Saigon Deli or New Saigon Deli. A slightly higher Yelp rating led to what I will presume is the old one.
Upon entering the small deli, we weren't sure what to do. People were clustered around holding cash, but there was no identifiable line in sight. So when an employee asked for the next customer and no one moved, we walked up to the counter and ordered two Grill Pork banh mi. We debated against some of the spring rolls and other side options on the table beside the deli counter but ultimately decided the sandwiches would be enough to satisfy our needs.
We waited less than ten minutes before the sandwiches were ready. During our wait, it was obvious that other customers were unsure of the ordering process and hesitated before walking up to the counter. We also found it odd that you paid when your food was ready, as opposed to when you ordered (like most counter service restaurants).
We got a Lyft back to Capitol Hill, where we found a nice spot to sit and enjoy our lunch beside the Broadway Famers' Market. The sandwiches were huge and had plenty of veggies and pork. The veggies, pork, and baguette were super tasty and fresh. Best of all each sandwich was less than $4!
Although our originally Banh Mi Fest plans were a bust, we found an awesome place to get authentic, delicious banh mi for cheap. We will definitely be returning to Saigon Deli when the banh mi urge returns.
Where's your favorite place to get a good, cheap sandwich?