Optimistically Cautious

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Better than your Average Sub: Saigon Givral

Lunch options around my workplace are few and far between. While our location is great for those who are looking for a mid-afternoon jolt of fresh air via a stroll in the park, the only quick food spots are the Copper Pot (expensive to eat-in, but better than their take-out menu) and Zuppas (has a cult following because of a dearth of neighbourhood choices, I think, as their mainstay wraps and pastas are just not that good).

A few coworkers and I were looking for fresh ideas, and I remembered Saigon Givral (11005 Jasper Avenue). Offering a healthy and interesting alternative to sandwiches, their Vietnamese subs were praised by many, including May.

Though we really could have bundled up and walked, we took the easy way out (or more challenging, actually, having to navigate the one-way roads) and drove. My coworker dropped me off at the non-descript strip of businesses beneath an apartment complex and drove off to find parking.

Entering Saigon Givral, it is clear that their primary mode of business is takeout. The space is dominated by the counter, where the subs are made fresh to order. There were a few small tables and folding chairs set up against the perimeter of the entrance, but I’m sure for the most part they functioned more as a waiting area than anything else. I was greeted by the friendly proprietor, who promptly took down my multi-item requests. It was early for the lunch crowd (11am), but likely the chilly weather deterred what is usually a brisk time of business for them. The lack of accessible parking reveals the nature of the typical Saigon Givral customer – those within walking distance in the towers nearby.

For $5.25 (including tax!), I was given an oven-toasted 12 inch sub filled with either satayed chicken or beef, mozzarella, pickled carrots, cucumber, onion, green peppers, cilantro, homemade mayonnaise and black pepper for some kick. I agreed to split half of my chicken sub for half of my workmate’s beef version, so I was able to try both types of meat. In my opinion, the beauty of these subs was the absolute melding of flavours. The cheese melted between the crevices in between the vegetables and the meat, and the mustard-y mayonnaise rounded out the sandwich nicely. My only modest critique is that Saigon Givral uses regular submarine bread (as opposed to the more traditional French baguette), but even that can be overlooked for the sheer portion size and the preference that some people have for softer bread.

The proprietor recommended calling ahead to order (hours are 10am-7pm, Monday to Friday, and 11am-5pm on Saturdays) for prompt pick-up, but as my brief wait was pleasant, I don’t think I would mind just dropping in again in the future. And really, for $5.25, the deal cannot be beat by anyone else within walking distance of Saigon Givral.

Restaurant Exterior


My sub

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