When the Vietnamese boat people abandoned their war-torn country in the late '70s, hopping aboard rickety vessels for the trek to Dallas, San Diego, New York, and Fort Lauderdale, they brought along some indispensable knowledge: how to make a damned near perfect sandwich. Why it's taken Americans so long to pick up the trail of the Vietnamese bánh mí sub is an unanswerable mystery. Although you can probably find bánh mí at dozens of mom-and-pop groceries in South Florida (hint: Start anywhere on 441 and work your way south), the cheerful and friendly Saigon Deli is a terrific introduction to the genre, a delicacy incorporating French influence (a baguette, mayonnaise, pâté) and Vietnamese staples (roast pork, daikon radish, cilantro, fish sauce). At Saigon Deli, the subs come in eight variations, all for $3, starting with house-cured meats like ham, shredded pork, barbecue pork, and roti chicken. A combo sub of ham, Vietnamese bologna, and silky pâté topped with crunchy pickled vegetables and served on a warm sweet roll, when paired with a glass of salty lemonade or sweet bubble tea, is bliss on Earth. This charming restaurant also serves a full complement of Vietnamese soups, salads, and noodle dishes.
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