If you’re not familiar with banh mi, the Asian equivalent of a submarine sandwich—made with a French baguette, crusty on the outside, airy on the inside, and filled with juicy pork strips, pickled carrots, crunchy cucumber, cilantro, jalapeño, and a smear of heavenly rich mayonnaise—here is a chance to try one. For the already initiated, it’s a chance to weigh in and trumpet your own local hero. Rumor has it that Asian-French fusion titan and impresario of Chambers Kitchen Jean-Georges Vongerichten was impressed with the version served at Saigon Express. Tucked neatly into the back of a minimall on Nicollet Avenue, this place serves, not only the tried-and-true cold version, but some interesting hot choices as well—meatball, chicken, and my favorite, grilled pork. The pleasantly chewy pork is caramelized with sugar and nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) and is redolent of fried shallots. The warm meat and cool salad make a great one-two combination, and, at $3.50, it deserves to be a top contender. Plus, these tigers are made to order, which is not always the case around town. Add one of the oddly refreshing white gourd drinks—they taste vaguely like Sugar Pops’ breakfast milk—and you might agree that Saigon Deli is the undisputed champ.
2538 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-870-7979