Mission residents no longer have to trek downtown for Vietnamese sandwiches, now that the food counter inside Duc Loi Supermarket features 5 delicious banh mi for $5 each.
Duc Loi Kitchen is the name of this new Vietnamese sandwich shop that opened last month, on the corner of Mission and 18th street. Just look for the large ban mi picture banner hanging on the left side, at the back of this Vietnamese supermarket. Previously, the food counter was home to Mission Street Food’s Mission Burger pop up from 2009 to 2010.
First thing customers will notice is that every sandwich is piled with generous portions, you definitely get your money’s worth. All the meat sandwiches come packed with the traditional banh mi accoutrements: pickled julienned daikon and carrots, sliced cucumbers, cilantro, jalapenos, herbed mayonnaise, and pork liver pate. The lone vegetarian sandwich is liberally loaded with portobello mushrooms, slabs of fried tofu, stewed onions, lettuce, tomato and avocado (vegans should skip the mayo). Another difference that makes this place exceptional is the meat quality, while most other banh mi shops use factory cold cuts, at Duc Loi all the BBQ meats, charcuterie and condiments are made from scratch.
So far, my favorite sandwiches are menu item #1, the ban mi combo which includes pork belly ham, cha lua (similar to bologna), headcheese and pork pot roast, and menu item #5, filled with succulent fried breaded chicken breast cutlets. News about this new sandwich spot have been spreading around the neighborhood, so expect to wait a while during the lunch period. I didn’t have to wait too long for my order, about 10 minutes, during the late afternoon. Otherwise, avoid the wait by calling to place an order for pickup. The short menu of five sandos ($5 each) is easy to remember: cold cuts combo, veggie, lemongrass BBQ pork, lemongrass BBQ chicken, and fried chicken breast.
The food counter features many other food items that change daily. Owner Amanda Ngo, mentioned that she tries to stock other items to add variety during lunch. She also explained that any packaged items stacked on top of the counter are vegetarian. Some of the packaged takeout items I saw inside the cold display case were, freshly made shrimp or chicken salads, green papaya salad, and veggie filled Banh Cuon – Vietnamese rice rolls. Customers can also purchase a selection of cooked meats like beef short ribs, Korean pork BBQ, and sandwich meats, for $6.99 to $9.99 per pound. The supermarket is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm, however the sandwich shop hours are 11 am to 7 pm. And remember to get a drink from the supermarket to complete your meal.
Duc Loi Kitchen
2200 Mission St. @ 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Photo Credit: Luis Chong