Two basic questions that I ask myself when going out to eat are 1. How much time do I have to eat? and 2. How much do I want to spend? If you are looking for both quick service and affordable prices, then look no further than Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen.
There seems to be a wide range of sandwich choices and prices in Salt Lake City. On one side you have your cheap quick, Jimmy Johns or Subway, and on the other side you have your meticulously crafted marvels like 9th South Delicatessen, Feldman’s Deli, or Robin’s Nest. I suppose each one has a time and a place. What is interesting about Oh Mai’s Bahn Mi sandwiches are that they are suspiciously cheap upon first glance.
On my first visit I checked out the menu board and read where each bahn mi sandwich is a 8 inch sandwich on a french baguette, filled with veggies, and meats depending on your choice. But then there was the prices. Most of the sandwiches were under $5 dollars, while there were even some under $4, and one egg sandwich that was under $3. My first thought was that the reason why they could possibly charge so little was because they are skimping out on toppings in a major way. I couldn’t fathom how they could make a profit selling an 8 inch sandwich for only $5. Subway has a $5 sandwich, but they are a major national chain with a big distribution network that comes along with discounted materials. Oh Mai is just a local sandwich shop.
Now because I was super hungry on this first visit, and I have never tried the sandwiches before and didn’t know what to expect, I went ahead and ordered a big bowl of pho. (pronounced phuh, kinda like you are about to drop an F-bomb, but don’t finish it) I ordered my pho, took a number, and found a seat in the modest dining area.
When my pho was brought out to me, my first thought was “How in the pho am I going to finish this?” (see what I did there?) Pho is a Vietnamese soup with noodles, veggies, and broth. I ordered the ribeye and brisket pho. It came with a lot of healthy slices of both meats in a delicious broth. The veggies were fantastic, the noodles were awesome. I even rocked it with my chopsticks and eat it like a boss. The thing that stands out about the pho is the size of your portion. I paid $6 bucks, but the bowl they brought out was absolutely HUGE.
As I was finishing my pho, which keep in mind at this point, I was already stuffed, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get a ban mi sandwich to go. I mean, sure I got full off a huge $6 dollar noodle and beef soup, but the sandwiches were only $4 bucks and that is what this place was supposedly known for. Seeing how good the pho was, I decided to roll the dice on the sandwich.
I took my ban mi out to my car, unwrapped it and took my first bite. WOW. Not only is the sandwich huge, but it was really, really good. The Vietnamese get the sandwich right folks. The french bread was perfect for the sandwich. Inside were all sorts of veggies I’ve never heard of, but soon fell in love with. Most of the sandwiches come with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapenos. I managed to drip brisket juice all over my shirt as I pulled out of the parking lot, but it was the jalapeno that caught up with me, and made me make a quick stop into a 7-11 for some bottled water. All the flavors came together in a perfect blend of sandwich awesome-ness. How in the pho have I never heard of this place before? (Oops I did it again!)
Oh Mai has two different locations. One in Holladay and the other in South Salt Lake on State Street. You can get delicious food at highway robbery prices. So next time you ask yourself the questions “How much time do I have?” and ‘How much do I want to spend?” Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen fits just about any budget and schedule!