Everyday: Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli

Everyday: Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli

 

The Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli has become a Lower Manhattan cultural institution. My intention was to capture daily moments and motions that happen in the deli. Sam Yip, the owner and manager, has run the deli for over fifteen years and works seven days a week to serve his customers.“Everyday: Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli” attempts to reflect on the small moments and dedication that Sam gives as well as what carving out a space means.

A city street showing a row of mixed-use walk-ups; a young child leads a man into a storefront with a white awning
A boy bolts ahead into the deli, pulling his father along.
The Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli awning
Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli, located on 369 Broome Street, has been in business for twenty-two years. Sam Yip has been running it for the last fifteen years. He acquired after his cousin needed help, although Sam had no experience with the restaurant business.
The deli interior, showing a crowd waiting at the counter
It’s lunchtime. Several customers wait patiently for their orders. Sam’s niece, Emily Yip, twenty-two, juggles taking orders, calling out numbers for pickup, and brewing coffee for the customers. The House Special #1 is the most popular menu item, along with Vietnamese coffee.
View into a storeroom crowded by boxes; someone in a baseball cap and apron mops the narrow space in between
A kitchen staff member mops the kitchen floor. To make the bánh mis, many employees take different roles in the kitchen, from slicing deli meat to pickling carrots. Some kitchen staff members are elderly, and some wish to retire by the next lease renewal.
Boxes of dry goods and containers of condiments on a shelf
The main counter is stacked with Café du Monde coffee cans, Nguyen Gourmet Blend boxes, and other Vietnamese food items. Aside from selling bánh mis, the deli sells the grounds for their Vietnamese coffee recipe as well as homemade items including shrimp spring rolls, pork rolls, and black sticky-rice desserts.
A bulletin board and yellow wall crowded with posters, cards, a calendar, and a small flag
Holiday cards, photos, a Chinese flag, and a kitchen cap hang on the wall with other memorabilia.
Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli as seen from the street. One customer sits in a metal chair to the left of the entrance; to the right of the entrance, three people stand chatting
Customers relax outside the deli. Located between Mott and Elizabeth Street, the deli shares the same street address as the two adjacent stores, the New York Tailor Shop and Kabab Bites. During peak season, in the summer, customers will stand outside the store to wait for their orders.
A man wearings a baseball cap and earbuds sits in one of the metal chairs outside Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli, a paper cup in hand
A man sits outside on the deli patio with a medium hot Vietnamese coffee in hand. The coffee is a dark roast of two types of blends, and condensed milk is added for sweetness.
A man, seen from the side, reads the paper standing at the deli's kitchen counter
Sam Yip, fifty-six, the manager of the deli, sits quietly and reads the paper. Although Sam doesn’t usually read the paper, he picked it up because someone had left it in the deli. Working at the deli for the past fifteen years, seven days a week, Sam wishes to visit Vietnam someday. He hasn’t been back since 1978.

 
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