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Banh Mi Saigon 8

Banh Mis and Boba Teas

A Banh Mi with an appropriate filling-to-bread ratio is hard to find -- but it’s here. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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ANNOUNCER: With word of a new Vietnamese sandwich shop in Olympia, Dutch and Jackie hurried down I-5 to get their hands around one of ‘em. Located off Martin Way with easy access in and out, Banh Mi Saigon 8 has a great deal of potential to be a hot spot for the locals.

DUTCH: I love the vibe here with couches and easy chairs tucked into little comfortable niches. Once you order at the counter, you're free to pick a corner, get comfy, chat with friends and wait for your pager to beep signifying your food is ready to enjoy. The atmosphere made me forget I was grabbing food in a strip mall.

JACKIE: I couldn't agree more. It has a casual cafe air to it. Cozy and not sterile or typical for a strip mall find. There are racks of bagged snacks like chips and more and a cold case loaded with flan and other sweet treats. Ultimately, I had my eye on the space's namesake, a Banh Mi.

DUTCH: With several options available, I grabbed the meatball banh mi sandwich. The veggies were plentiful and fresh, the sweet crunch of the cucumber partnered well with the heat offered by the jalapeno and sour of the pickled carrots and onions. All of which also complements the fresh cilantro. The flavorful combination is partnered with Vietnamese pork meatballs in a spicy sauce all stuffed into a fresh French baguette. I had hoped for large full meatballs that would drive the sandwich, but instead the sandwich had small pieces of the flavorful meatballs. More meat would surely have been a better overall balance to the sandwich.

JACKIE: These Banh Mis are seriously fantastic. There's a perfect balance of bread to filling. The fresh flavor of veggies, pop of heat from sliced jalapeño and savory bites of meat are pure bliss sandwiched between a warm n' toasty baguette. I tried both the grilled chicken and the special (which featured pork, beef and chicken). The meat is tender and well seasoned. I gobbled mine up happily.

DUTCH: With so many drink options, I steered clear of the refrigerated drinks and ordered an iced honey black tea without the boba. Served in the traditional Asian custom with a plastic cover so that I could give it one last shake before I pierced the top with my straw; cool and refreshing, this really hit the spot.

JACKIE: I'm a fan of strip mall gems, and this is no exception.

BANH MI SAIGON 8, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday-Wednesday, 7263 Martin Way E., Olympia, 360.584.9652

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