Archive for the 'Deli' Category

Bánh Mì Cá Sardine


There are countless banh mi vendors in Saigon selling sardine sandwiches, but the absolute best version is made at a hip deli named Ta Banh Mi Thit.

Ta Banh Mi Thit falls under the genre of Vietnamese-owned eateries that are designed with western aesthetics in mind. They have a professional-looking logo, matching uniforms, a menu with pictures and the staff even wears gloves! Even though I usually try to avoid pretty places like these, their bánh mì cá sardine keeps me coming back.

Priced at 13,000 VND, the bánh mì cá sardine is more than twice the cost of the ones sold street side, but the quality and flavors cannot be matched. The baguette is made in-house and toasted to a crisp. The canned sardines, which come packed in a tomato sauce, are gently heated and kept whole. The best part of the sandwich are the sauteed onions, which are scattered on top. Throw in some fresh cucumber spears, cilantro and pickled carrots and daikon, and you’ve got a killer sandwich.

259 Le Thanh Ton Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone: 8229703

369 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền Street
District 10, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone: 2406007


Upstairs at DiBruno’s


June 21, 2007
Cuisine: Italian, Delis

1730 Chestnut St, Philadelphia 19103
Btwn S 17th St & S 18th St

Phone: 215-665-9220


Prosciutto Fig Pie ($8)

DiBruno Brothers is the perfect marriage between fashion and function. Not only is the store gorgeously laid-out, but it also sells some of the best artisanal products in town—including foie gras. The shop’s first floor is dedicated to specialty foods, baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pastas, and cheeses. The second floor is a casual café offering a variety of gourmet sandwiches, prepared foods, and pizzas. DiBruno Brothers has been dubbed the Dean and Deluca of Philadelphia and I think that’s an accurate comparison.

While I have always loved browsing DiBruno’s aisles and tasting their many delicious samples, I didn’t try the café until recently with Wes. The Upstairs space is painted a vibrant yellow and blasts hits from the 90’s, which I really liked but made conversation difficult. Even in the midst of the lunch hour rush, Wes and I were able to locate a suitable table with ease.  

Wes picked up a sandwich from the deli counter, while I headed to the pizza section. The pie that caught my eye was the Prosciutto Fig. After placing my order, the pizza was briefly reheated in the oven, and brought to my table. A half order consisted of four generous slices, which was more than enough to satisfy my hearty appetite. In fact, I had to pack up half to-go.

The Prosciutto Fig Pie was really outstanding! The crust was slightly sweet and the ideal thickness. The cheese, a mix of ricotta and mozzarella, hit the all the right notes and didn’t over power the other ingredients. The thinly sliced prosciutto crisped up nicely in the oven, while the delicate figs caramelized beautifully. The entire pizza was drizzled with thick balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with fresh rosemary, which took an already delectable pie to a whole new level. The Prosciutto Fig Pie seriously blew my mind! If I were still in Philly, I’d definitely be eating one right now…

IMG_2963 IMG_2976 

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen

April 28, 2007
Cuisine: Delis, Eastern European

700 S 4th St, Philadelphia 19147
At Bainbridge St

Phone: 215-922-3274
Website: none

Chocolate Chip Cookie ($1.35)

The summer of 2006 marked the beginning of my love affair with chocolate chip cookies. Prior to last summer, Chips Ahoy (Regular and Chewy) and poorly executed Toll House was more or less the extent of my chocolate chip cookie repertoire. As a result, chocolate chip cookies never ranked high in my book. But all this changed last summer after two events:

1. As I sat patiently on my flight from Philadelphia to Milwaukee on Midwest Airlines, the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies wafted in the air. Unlike the trolls at American Airlines, Midwest Airlines still care about customer service and show patrons by serving two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on every flight. These cookies are baked on board and are so good—warm and melt-y and the anticipation of their arrival makes them even better. Talk about friendly skies!

2. The second event that changed my outlook was at a work-related retreat. These gatherings are notorious for overfeeding attendees in order to increase alertness and participation. Every afternoon, way too soon after lunch, a tray of cookies would be delivered to our conference room and passed around multiple times until dismissal. I grabbed a cookie each time the tray came by; chocolate chip was always my favorite. These cookies were big, moist, and slightly crispy in all the right places.

Which brings us finally to the cookies at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. With my new found love of chocolate chip cookies in hand, I made my way down to South Street to sample Philadelphia’s best (or so I’ve heard). There is a satellite location at the Reading Terminal Market that sells only cookies, but I wanted the real deal.

The cookie was about 2.5 inches in diameter and contained chocolatey goodness in every bite; a definite plus. Also, the cookie is made with pure butter and not with trans-fat-laden Crisco. The only factors going against the cookie is its size and temperature. I like really big cookies with soft middles and crisped edges. A small cookie does not vary much in texture. I also prefer freshly baked cookies with gooey chocolate chips; Famous 4th’s cookie was at room temperature.

Famous 4th produces a good cookie and maybe even the best in the city, but I think this town can do better.

A Chau


January 16, 2007
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Deli

4644 El Cajon Blvd Ste 111
San Diego, CA 92115-4432

Phone: 619-281-4066
Website: none

Bánh Mì Bì Chả ($3)

One of my favorite traditions in San Diego is picking up some Bánh Mì at A Chau for my long flight back to Philadelphia. On our way to the airport, the Astronomer and I picked up two Bánh Mì Bì Chả and one Bánh Mì Nem Nướng for our long trip back east.

I enjoyed my Bánh Mì Bì Chả on the second leg of my flight. Of all the different combinations of Bánh Mì, the Bì Chả is far and away my favorite and A Chau makes it best. Bì is thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin. Chả are Vietnamese meats spiced and flavored in a multitude of ways and is often ground to a paste and cooked. Chả is often referred to as Vietnamese sausages or sometimes steamed pâté rolls. The difference in taste and texture between the Bì, Chả, and pickled vegetables is what makes this sandwich so delicious! The onion oil adds another dimension in flavor as well.

The Astronomer ate his Bánh Mì Nem Nướng on the second leg of the flight as well. Nem Nướng is barbecued Vietnamese meatballs. They are often reddish in color and grilled on skewers like kabobs. Ingredients in the marinade include fish sauce. He enjoyed his sandwich immensely.

A Chau


December 30, 2006
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Deli

4644 El Cajon Blvd Ste 111
San Diego, CA 92115-4432

Phone: 619-281-4066
Website: none

Bánh Mì Dāc Biêt ($2.50)

Bánh Mì Thit Nguoi ($2)

A Chau sells the best bánh mì on the planet. The bread is perfectly crisp and always fresh, the meats are high-quality, and the pickled carrots and daikon are crunchy and flavorful. I always pick up some bánh mì whenever I am home because Philly bánh mì doesn’t stand a chance.

On my recent visit to A Chau, I ordered the Bánh Mì Thit Nguoi, which consists of cold cuts, pickled vegetables (carrots, daikon, onions, and cucumber), pate and cilantro. I always ask for my sandwiches without mayo. As always, the sandwich hit the spot and filled me up nicely. My other favorite sandwich at A Chau is the bánh mì bì cha, which comprises of shredded pork, slices of pork sausage and a drizzle of onion oil.

Cousin Phil and Danny ordred the Bánh Mì Dāc Biêt, which came with everything on my sandwich with additional slices of pork sausage (cha).