It is with great sadness that a local favorite, K Sandwiches, has closed indefinitely. A little before 9:00pm Tuesday night, a fire set ablaze the kitchen, then roof, and was deemed a total loss. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the 88 year-old owner was hospitalized due to stress. Investigations show a faulty stove as the likely culprit for the $1.5 million worth of damages.
I’d like to think it is without personal bias when I say that if you have not had a bánh mì sandwich, you haven’t lived. What is a bánh mì sandwich, you say? Born of French influence during their colonization of Vietnam, this is a simple, yet delicious, example of fusion done right. The sandwich is comprised of both French (toasted baguette, pâté, mayonnaise) and Vietnamese (cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeños, pickled daikon and carrots) ingredients, and then your protein of choice.
Us Vietnamese love our pork, so popular choices are chả lụa (pork meatloaf or sausage) and thịt nguội (pork cold cut), but there’s also the thịt nướng (barbecue beef). Of course, without fresh, quality ingredients, you can’t have a quality product; however, to me, the bread is always the deal breaker. If it does not have the right ratio of a soft interior and flaky exterior, the whole thing is ruined. What can I say? I love my carbs. =)
Here’s a photo of the first one I had during my first Vietnam trip in 2013. Go ahead, take a bite. =)
There’s even a breakfast bánh mì sandwich. I’ve yet to see a restaurant that has it on their menu, but they can easily make one upon request. Or… OR… try something new and make it at home. Baguette, sunny-side up egg, green onions, soy sauce, = breakfast. This sandwich is so popular, a lot of American restaurants are putting their own twist on it, and jumping on the bánh-wagon. Though far from authentic, they’re a pretty tasty, albeit pricier, alternative. Also, seems like they all know better than to go with anything other than pork:
- Soda & Swine (smoked pork)
- Brooklyn Girl (pork and shrimp meatballs)
- Carnitas’ Snack Shack (pork sausage and rilette)
- Salt & Cleaver (pork sausage)
- Tiger! Tiger! (pork belly)
- Which Wich (pulled pork)
I’m old school, so I suggest going to one of the following in honor of the 10 year-old mom and pop. In addition to the multitude of Vietnamese restaurants that have it on their menu, try these out:
- Avian Fresh Drinking Water | Lucky Bánh Mì
For years, this particular address was known to the Linda Vista residents as Ba Le Sandwiches. It shuttered its doors years ago, but re-opened as, what do you know, another bánh mì sandwich shop. The sandwiches are made to-order, and you guessed it, has perfect bread. Finding this shop may prove confusing as the sign says “Avian Sandwiches.” Really, it’s nestled inside the Avian Fresh Drinking Water business. Multi-task—fill up while you wait for a sandwich.
6937 Linda Vista Rd., Ste. C, San Diego, CA 92111 | 858.751.0890 | Sun.–Mon.: 8am–7pm
A booming chain, this is a go-to for many, and K Sandwiches main competitor. Cali Baguette has several locations including a sit-down restaurant and drive-thru shops. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again… grab a pâté chaud (meat puff pastry) while you’re there too. You’ll thank me later.
Various locations | Various hours
3. Saigon Sandwiches & Deli
City Heights, affectionately Little Saigon, has the largest Vietnamese community in San Diego, and this combo convenience store/sandwich shop is a popular destination.
4133 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92105 | 619.284.3034 | Sun.: 7am–4pm | Mon.: Closed | Tues.–Sat.: 7am–5pm
4. Bale French Sandwich Shop
To round it off, here’s another one from City Heights. Don’t let their facade fool you. Native San Diegans know some of the best Mexican food in town comes from hole-in-the-wall, so here, what they lack in presentation, they make up for in taste.
4879 University Ave., Ste. A, an Diego, CA 92105 | 619.283.4352 | Sun.: 7am–5pm | Mon.–Sat.: 7am–6pm