I’m going to break all journalistic rules right off the bat and admit that this headline could be a little misleading; I honestly haven’t had a ton of Vietnamese sandwiches in my life.
But there is a place in San Leandro that makes a Vietnamese sandwich that I love, for its freshness and for its amazingly reasonable cost — Lido.
It’s a tiny place in the Fairmont Square shopping center across from Bayfair Mall. I stumbled upon it one day, and was immediately attracted by the $2.75 sandwiches.
Let me repeat that: $2.75. Where can you get a sandwich for $2.75 anymore???
At that price, I wasn’t expecting much in size or quality. I was very pleasantly surprised on both fronts.
For those who aren’t familiar with this excellent concept, a Vietnamese sandwich (Bánh mì), generally consists of meat — usually some form of pork — pickled carrots and daikon (Japanese radish), cucumber, cilantro and sliced jalapeños on a baguette.
Báhn mì can fail on several fronts: the baguette can be old or chewy; the meat can be cold, or just of bad quality; and the veggies may have been sitting around for quite some time. I’ve experienced all of these failings.
But Lido excels on all fronts. I’ve tried a couple of their sandwiches — the chicken and, if I remember correctly, the barbecued pork. Both times, the meat was freshly cooked, hot and well seasoned.
The baguette is fresh and crunchy, if not quite French good. Actually, traditional báhn mì is made with a baguette that includes rice flour, but I’m not sure if Lido’s does.
All the vegetables were super fresh and crunchy. And the sandwich was big enough to fill me up for lunch.
Lido also has spring roll packages (three rolls for $3.25) and prepared meat and rice, or rice noodle, platters ($3.50) for take out, though I haven’t tried these.
My last time there, I had one of their prepared drinks — basil seed with lychee pulp. Basil seeds become gelatinous when soaked in water, and are used in some Southeast Asian drinks. The drink was way too sweet for my taste, but basil seeds are pretty fun to slurp up and crunch on.
Lido’s also has a cooler with some fun drinks, including coconut water, which I’m happy to see become more popular.
My meal cost slightly over $5, just about unbeatable.
On the downside, the eating atmosphere at Lido is nothing to get excited about. The drink cooler buzzes loudly and, last time I ate there, an infomercial for the Ahh Bra was running on the flat screen TV the whole time. But they do have one table outside, or you can call ahead and get something to go, which I saw lots of people doing.
The couple that runs Lido’s is very nice, and they’ve only been in business since the beginning of this year. So go check ‘em out!
Lido, 1338 Fairmont Dr., 510-278-9999