The Vietnamese community in San Diego, where I spent the last week, is firmly established in City Heights, on the city's east side. Some folks might be wary of the S.D. neighborhoods east of the 805 freeway, but for those us who grew up or still live in the area, the dividends of this immigrant community's presence are clear: Lots of great Vietnamese food.
Above, a beef sandwich from Saigon Sandwiches & Deli, a small shop next to a laundromat (which I remember well from childhood) at a run-down strip mall on University and Malborough avenues. It's basically a roll, fresh cooked strips of beef, spicy pepper, cilantro, and carrot and jicama, I believe. If I remember right, it costs about $3. The Vietnamese coconut soft drink that accompanies it is about a buck.
It's a delicious and fast lunch under $5. But if the mood calls for a bit more of immersion in Vietnamese cuisine, I head up a few blocks to Saigon Restaurant, across from Hoover High School. The place consists of a single dining room with a high, airy ceiling and cool mural paintings of the Vietnamese countryside. Great ambience, and great pho, noodle dishes, spring rolls, and Vietnamese coffee and lemon ice drink.
* More soon.