Beyond Banh Mi: San Francisco's Best East-West Sandwiches

Categories: Eat This, Top Five
Alvin P./Yelp
HRD's Sloppy Jo-Jo, $5.75.
SFoodie could eat banh mi every day ― and has, at times ― but as we,ve traced that hallowed route between our offices and Larkin Street we've been distracted by more and more Asian-themed sandwiches. Here are five favorites from the past five months, in no particular order:

1. Sloppy Jo-Jo at HRD Coffee Shop: 521 Third St. (at Bryant), 543-2355.
HRD, which appears to be a grotty little diner but has gathered a fervid lunch following, is famous for its kimchi burrito and its Mongolian steak sandwich. Our favorite? The Sloppy Jo-Jo, which does indeed live up to its name. Beef coated in sweet-spicy marinade is griddled up with caramelized onions and kimchi, then ladled over a hamburger bun that can't possibly support the overabundance. Bring Wet Naps ― you'll use your fingers to finish the rest.

Jonathan Kauffman
Pal's Lao sausage sandwich, $8.
2. Mrs. Binh's Lao sausage sandwich from Pal's Takeaway: Inside Tony's Market, 2741 24th St. (at Hampshire), 203-4911,
Every few weeks, Jeff Mason advertises a sandwich featuring the aromatic homemade sausages he buys off the sisters who run Vientian Cafe in Oakland. Lime leaves, garlic, and lemongrass streak through the nose when you bite down, chased by red peppers; and while the pickled shredded carrots and cilantro Mason piles on top pay homage to the banh mi, the bitter greens and denser French-style bread keep it from tasting like an imitation.

John Birdsall
Skool's aji sandwich, $12.
3. Fried aji sandwich at Skool: 1725 Alameda (at DeHaro), 255-8800,
Toshihiro Nagano's aji sandwich rethinks the Filet-O-Fish: Instead of a wan splurt of mayonnaise on a thickly breaded fillet of pollock, he lightly breads buttery Spanish mackerel and serves it on crisp levain bread with pickled cabbage and a spoonful of a mustard, herb, and chopped-egg relish.

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