Sunday, June 28, 2009

San Francisco, Day 3: Saigon Sandwich, Flying Fish Grill

Catch up! Day 1 and Day 2
My third day in San Francisco started with an late-morning stroll to nearby Saigon Sandwich, reputed to make some of the best bánh mì in town. The cluttered shop had the same vibe as one of my NYC favorites, Sau Voi Corporation: narrow, tiny space; cluttered counter stacked high with Vietnamese sweets and snacks; tiny women assembling sandwiches in the open. I took it as a sign of good things to come.
I was right, too. After one bite of my "special combination" bánh mì I was totally hooked. Each element was perfectly executed, from the dark, peppery pate to the sweet pickled carrots and to the juicy slices of roasted pork. The fresh bread held up well to the huge pile of ingredients, and even though unwieldy strands of cilantro hung out the side of my mouth (the only thing I can think of to criticize) I think it's one of the best bánh mì I've ever had. There's not a single place in NYC I can think of that compares. Especially not at $3.50!
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We also got a roll of coconut-laced, banana-filled sticky rice, a snack that was just the right touch of sweetness after our hearty sandwiches.
After lazing around the apartment for a bit, GQ, MH and I drove about thirty miles south of San Francisco to Half Moon Bay, where one of MH's friend was getting married. Since GQ and I weren't actually attending the wedding and were just in the area to hang out, once MH split for her bridesmaid duties the two of us explored what there was to eat for dinner. We ended up at Flying Fish Grill, which GQ had read about somewhere.
Flying Fish Grill is a casual joint that I imagine would be fun in warmer weather, when sitting outside on the patio wouldn't mean freezing our noses off. Nonetheless they offered an inexpensive menu of seaside favorites, including the Fish Taco Grande, which wrapped a piece of deep-fried cod in a corn tortilla along with jack cheese, guacamole, shredded cabbage, salsa, and white sauce. At four bucks, I'm not sure it was completely worth the price, but it was definitely a decent fish taco.
We also split an order of the "Crabby Cheezy Bread," which was a garlicky combination of cheese and crabmeat spread over bread and broiled until toasty. I was pleased by the large chunks of crabmeat on top, but found that once I took a took a bite there wasn't much actual crab taste. The cheese and garlic in that proportion were just too strong for that kind of delicate flavor, I think.
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For my entree I went for the California Wrap, swayed by its promise of deep-fried shrimp, avocado, mango salsa, ginger slaw, and rice in a warm spinach tortilla. The shrimp were plump and tender in their crunchy batter, and provided a nice textural contrast to the soft mush that was everything else. Don't get me wrong—it was delicious mush, and everything tasted really fresh.
I'm not sure I would have done it without GQ and her sweet tooth sitting at the table, but we ended with a slice of blueberry pie, served a la mode. Whether the pie was made in-house I couldn't tell, but it had all the elements of homemade: warm, flaky crust; rich, non-gloppy filling; and a squiggle of whipped cream hiding the crust's imperfections. The vanilla ice cream was mediocre, but once it melted into the blueberry pie, it was just as good as it could be.

Would I go back to Flying Fish Grill again? If ever I'm in the area, yes.

San Francisco:
Day 1: Civic Center Farmer's Market, Bund Shanghai, Paulette, Miette, Mandalay
Day 2: Slanted Door, Ciao Bella, Acme Bread Company, Ghirardelli, Mangarosa
Day 3: Saigon Sandwich, Flying Fish Grill
Day 4: El Tonyayense, Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, Bi-Rite Creamery, Pagolac
Day 5: Lee's Sandwiches

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