A shredded pork bánh mì ($2.25), though, is only for the more adventurous, it's an unforgettable combination of julienne pork parts and roasted-rice powder, which combine in a resilient, springtimey union--imagine aspic on toast. Beginners should start off with one of the two special order bánh mì, grilled beef ($3) or grilled pork ($3). These two made-to-order bánh mì have long been available to people in the know, but since the Truong family recently decided to add them to the menu, their sweet fresh flavor has been winning fans. "They go like hotcakes," says Truong, "They've always been popular for us, but since we moved across the street a lot of people don't even see the business we do in them. If you're sitting at the tables you might never notice the people coming to pick up the big bags."

You can't help but notice the people coming for sandwiches at Saigon Restaurant and Bakery, a former fast-food restaurant on University that is the city's most artisanal bánh mì shop. Here the three owners--Lysa Bui, Andy To, and Tuyet Dinh (pictured)--labor day and night making all of their ingredients from scratch, from the distinctly yellow and egg-yolky mayonnaise to the savory pâté to the wide, soft rolls with the split tops that make their bánh mì so memorable. Out of the nine very good sandwiches available here, I particularly recommend those bánh mì that involve the sweet, incredibly tender meatballs that simmer all day in a pot of tomato sauce next to the sandwich area. Get them on their own in B2, bánh mì xiû mai ($1.50), where they mash the meatballs into a pillowy layer, or in B4, bánh mì thâp câm, a $2 humdinger that combines thick-cut slices of house-barbecued pork, a few slices of that bologna-like lunch meat, and meatballs along with the generous handfuls of cilantro and fresh slices of cucumber that are the restaurant's hallmark. The best part of ordering at Saigon, though (aside from the unbelievably low prices--can you believe a veggie sandwich costs $1?), is the way they make the sandwiches right in front of you, not unlike Subway, and you can adjust the fillings as you watch: More cilantro? Less? Pipe up.

Craig Lassig

Location Info

Map

Quang Restaurant

2719 Nicollet Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Oddly enough, Minnesota seems to be something of a promised land for bánh mì. Joe Nguyen from A la Française pointed out to me that the sandwiches here are better than the ones in Vietnam, since we've got modern ovens that make perfect loaves, and Vietnamese street vendors are often relying on jury-rigged ovens that have electric lights as their heating elements. The woman behind the counter at Saigon noted that their other Saigon restaurant, near Dallas, sells their bánh mì at higher prices, even though the ingredients are even cheaper down there--and I didn't even mention the Wednesday special yet. On Wednesdays at Saigon you can buy five sandwiches and get a sixth one free. That explains the order for 150 bánh mì I saw on the order board for an upcoming Wednesday. At eight inches each, if you laid them end to end....It may not be making the news, and it obviously has nothing to do with the Republicans, but I'm thinking that Minneapolis and St. Paul are making a mile-long bánh mì every day.

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