I was meeting friends for a long, late lunch on a Friday afternoon, which is just the perfect thing sometimes. I was the first to show up so I lurked around outside the place taking a bunch of photos,
then I wandered off for a bit to check out another Vietnamese sandwich shop down the block. When I got back Jessie was waiting outside, and soon after Sarah and Justin arrived and we headed inside.
I liked the look of Sing Sing a lot, the red checkered table cloths, the towering plants,
and the flat screen tv showing some sort of Vietnamese karaoke extravaganza.
The place was totally empty when we were there, at least the front room; I think Jessie mentioned that he went into the backroom and there were some people doing some gambling. That’s what Sing Sing is known for, according to Yelp anyway, indoor smoking and backroom gambling. We probably missed out on this because we were there so late, that sort of stuff is more of a morning activity. A few days ago when I walked by around 10 am on a Saturday there were guys just spilling out of the place.
Anyway, we ordered at the counter from a guy who didn’t speak great English. I am really terrible at communicating with people with accents or a poor grasp of my native tongue, which makes me feel really bad and racist but I try really hard, I do. I’m just a little hard of hearing and not good with visual cues. To be fair, I’m not so great at communicating with people who speak English as their first language who have no accent. So. There was a little confusion since Sarah and I had both read that they only serve one thing at Sing Sing, a combination Vietnamese sandwich, but when we tried to order just that we were told that they only had pork sandwiches that day. So we ordered four pork sandwiches and four iced Vietnamese coffees.
The coffees were delicious and strong and refreshing, and we were also given a pot of hot tea which provided a nice contrast. Jessie said something great about the flavor of the coffee (or was it the tea…) that was so great I had to write it down so I wouldn’t forget to put it in this post. Of course, I’ve misplaced where I wrote it, but as soon as I find my notebook I’ll update it for you all to enjoy.
The sandwiches came out and looked so beautiful I could hardly stop taking photos long enough to eat.
Before this it had been a while since I’d had a Vietnamese sandwich, so I don’t know if this was a particularly outstandingly delicious sandwich, or I just forgot how much I like them, but dang, it was good. It was a masterful combination of textures. Fresh, crusty bread, it cut the roof of my mouth of course but sometimes that’s the price you have to pay, with a soft inside. Crunchy and cool pickled vegetables, tender roast pork, thinner cartiledge-ey slices of pork and a creaminess that didn’t taste overpoweringly of mayonnaise all melded together into perfection. We were, again, a little confused since we’d been told that this wasn’t a combination sandwich, but it was similar to combination sandwiches I’d had in the past, with the different types of pig meat and what looked an awful lot like pate…
Maybe their combination is more than one type of meat? My one beef with this sandwich was that it had pretty large slices of raw jalapeno, but it’s a pretty meaningless complaint because they are easy to pick off if you’re a wimp like me. I should also note that I was the only one to take the jalapenos off my sandwich (after I ate one, thinking I could handle it but I totally couldn’t). Like I said, I am a wimp.
So Sing Sing sandwich shop, who knew? For whatever reason this place is not mentioned in discussions of great Tenderloin Vietnamese sandwich shops, those in my experience are limited to Saigon Sandwiches and Baguette Express. They are vastly more popular ( Saigon sandwiches has 1098 Yelp reviews and Baguette Express has 125, to Sing Sing’s 40), and I guess I would venture that it’s because they are on the less scary Larkin Street and they are both more obviously places to get food. I mean, neither of them from the outside seem to just be a room full of plants. And I have actually never been to either of those spots (I know, sacrilege) but I think it’s pretty safe to say that neither of them display their slices of pork in a refrigerated case like this
With a cherry on top.
Sing Sing Sandwich Shop
309 Hyde Street