Epic Sandwich: Good cheap eats at Jasmine Deli


During a busy work week I often find myself in search of a lunch spot that can really nail take-out. I usually don't have the time to be impressed with ambiance or amenities, but prefer not to sacrifice flavor either. It's not that I don't enjoy a nice leisurely lunch (I relish them, actually), it's just that I'm usually forced to find something quick and delicious to keep me going until I hit dinner.

Jasmine Deli fits the above description perfectly. The place looks like it probably hasn't been updated since Michael Jackson was kind of normal, so there isn't really any reason to linger. The huge bottles of rooster and hoisin set on every table proves that they know their customers want heat and salt, and also serve as the most compelling decoration in the entire space. The plain clothes employees and informality of the place indicates that the owners are comfortably proud of their business, and based on my brief moment in their jammed dinning room, they should be.

If you go to Jasmine Deli you have to try their Bánh mì - and at $3.50 you could even order it as a serious appetizer. Several versions are available and I decided to go with the popular pork version. They fill a soft, flaky baguette with crunchy pickled carrots, refreshing cucumbers and sprigs of potent cilantro. The veggies provided a welcome freshness, but the true hero of this sandwich was the BBQ pork. The Asian inspired preparation provided a deep smoky flavor and lingering sweetness before finishing with a mellow heat that could have also come from some sliced jalapeños. Regardless, I was far too busy devouring to investigate - an admitted weakness. I was a little bummed by the bread to filling ratio and was flat out dissapointed that they didn't slather on at least a little bit of traditional paté. Despite a few flaws the sandwich was tasty, fresh, blindingly fast and at $3.50, I really had nothing to argue about.

Sandwich Rating: Tasty. If you're looking for a place you can be in and out of with a unique sandwich in under 2 minutes flat, then I've found the place. I'll be back to Jasmine Deli, but will explore a few of the other well-known Vietnamese eateries to sample their version of the Bánh mì before I head back.

Epic Sandwich copyright 2009 by Teddy Hobbins