I was really craving a banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) one day and could not venture all the way to Chinatown to eat one. Luckily, my friend knew of Saiguette and recommended it to me.
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Saiguette is located in Manhattan Valley, so it is pretty convenient to Columbia University's campus.
It is a deli, so there are not really any seats in the restaurant (about 4 stools at the bar by the window), so you have to either do takeout or delivery. We opted for takeout and took it back to my friend's apartment.
I ordered the grilled lemongrass pork shoulder banh mi ($9). One of my friends ordered the flank steak banh mi ($11) and my other friend ordered the beef pho ($9).
Since they have the monopoly of Vietnamese food in the area, their prices are pretty steep. I was a little leery about paying that much for a banh mi, especially since I knew I could get a banh mi in Chinatown for less than $5.
The flavor and quality of the sandwiches we had were much better than what I have had in Chinatown. The banh mi are packed with vegetables (spears of cucumbers, pickled carrots and peppers), cilantro, and sriracha mayo. The bread the use is baked daily on-site and you can tell that the bread is fresh. It was very soft and flaky. They also give you containers of hot sauce and hoisin. The sandwiches are also quite filling, it was easily two meals for me.
My friend was surprised that her beef was served raw, but after we explained that the beef would cook in her soup, she was very satisfied with her choice. It was a very generous portion of beef and the broth was very flavorful without being salty or greasy. The soup was also extremely hot, staying hot even after we walked back to my friend's place. They packed sprouts, cilantro, and other accoutrements so she could make the soup fit her taste.
I also had a taro bubble tea ($4.50). Again, this was expensive, but it is also the only place to buy decent bubble in the area. The pearls were cooked to the right consistency, which is a major plus.
If you go during lunch hours, they offer a 10% discount. They also accept credit cards. :)
Location: 935 Columbus Ave. (106th Street).
103 St (1, A, B, C)