Five-Dollar Delicious: Duc Loi's Vietnamese Sandwiches

One-month-old Duc Loi Kitchen seems destined to become the Saigon Sandwiches of the Mission. The last time we visited this food counter inside Duc Loi Supermarket, we were the last customers of the temporary outpost of Mission Burger back in 2010.

Duc Loi delivers on both quantity and quality, with each of its five $5 sandwiches coming out of the kitchen generously packed. Our favorites were the fried chicken breast sandwich and the cold cuts combo banh mi. All are made to order.

Our first sandwich was stuffed with three succulent breaded chicken strips, still hot from the fryer. We were soon happily chomping away, each delicious bite inviting another, until all too quickly, it was gone.

The dac biet (cold cuts combo with pickled daikon, carrots, cucumbers, jalapenos, cilantro, and mayo) in particular is a step above most other Bay Area versions. The majority of competitors use a trio of factory-made Vietnamese cold cuts: headcheese, pork belly ham, and cha lua (aka Vietnamese pork roll, similar to bologna), plus a chicken or pork liver paté.

All the meats and condiments are made in-house, and the silky headcheese to the robust liverwurst, you can taste the difference. It's also significantly meatier, because it contains a fourth item: a thick slab of pork pot roast. The only thing the kitchen doesn't make is the bread, a La Brea baguette.

Sandwich meats are also available for sale at $6.99-$9.99 per pound. Owner Amanda Ngo explains that customers often ask for the headcheese and liverwurst, but those aren't included in the list, because she barely has enough for the sandwiches.

The supermarket is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; the food counter is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Amanda adds that if she's in the store, she'll gladly make you a sandwich any time.

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