Food Shop at Sovereign
Food Shop is the new grab & go shop by Chef Michael “Bao” Huynh, known for being Iron Chef Vietnam. It is adjacent to its sit-down sister restaurant, Sovereign Kitchen + Bar.
Inside the small shop you’ll find a handful of tables and a menu of quick bites like bánh mì sandwiches, pho, bowls, and wok dishes.
Our original intention had been to dine-in, but the late afternoon sun was covering all the tables and the cozy restaurant was already quite warm, so we decided to take our food to-go instead, just like everyone else.
BBQ Beef Bánh mì
I was most looking forward to trying the banh mi, a specialty of Chef Michael Bao Huynh’s. While this may look like any other ordinary banh mi sandwich, it didn’t taste like any banh mi I’ve had before. In many ways, it actually didn’t even feel like I was eating a banh mi.
To date, all the banh mi sandwiches I have eaten, no matter the filling, have a distinct flavor profile, with the cilantro and pickled vegetables prominently featured in every bite. The flavors in this sandwich were dominated by the tender, warm, marinated lean pieces of beef (not the cheap gristle that’s usually served), and a soft fried egg ($1 extra). The pickled vegetables and cilantro were there too, but were mild and not overpowering. I really enjoyed this sandwich.
Yes, it does cost a little bit more than the express banh mi sandwich shops you’ll find in San Diego, but it’s not overly expensive. The sandwiches range from $6-8 (the beef bbq cost $6), which is actually cheaper than ones I’ve had on food trucks and in restaurants.
Pork Spring Rolls
Crisp pork filled spring rolls are served with a fish sauce based dipping sauce, lettuce and pickled vegetables. Curiously, they provided iceberg lettuce to wrap the rolls in, which don’t work nearly as well as a more leafy lettuce like green leaf lettuce.
While these tasted fine, they weren’t anything out of the ordinary, and a bit expensive compared to the ones served at Vietnamese pho shops.
This reminded me of Chinese stir fried noodles. While I loved the abundance of noodles, I did feel like it could have used more of a garlic punch. I tasted more oyster sauce than anything else.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the offerings at Food Shop. I’ll definitely be back for more Banh Mi sandwiches and to try out more menu items. And I plan on coming back for Sovereign as well.