I’m proud to say (without passing judgment on anyone else) that I never ever eat from fast food chains. Back in high school, I used to love the .89 cent chicken nugget days at McDonalds, and on a few college road trips I definitely ate some fast food when there was no other choice. But it’s probably been years since I’ve visited a McD’s, Wendy’s, etc.

However, I have recently discovered the pleasure of a local fast food delicacy known as the Vietnam Sandwich, or “Banh Mi.” With my classes at Tufts Med School located in Chinatown, and the need for moderately healthy in between class and work, I’ve done a little research into the treasures of the neighborhood. There are definitely many good options – pho soups from Pho Pasteur, classic steamed veggies and rice from pretty much any Chinese restaurant – but when you’re looking for something fast and inexpensive, nothing beats the Banh Mi. For $3 (yes, $3) you’ll get a choice of tofu, chicken, or beef on a crusty baguette with flavorful pickled carrots, cucumber, and daikon radishes, spicy sauces, topped with cilantro. My favorite place so far is the New Saigon Sandwich, a tiny little place on Washington Street. Don’t be fooled by the modest appearance – their sandwiches are seriously delicious and very filling! Today I ordered the tofu sandwich with extra vegetables and no mayo, perfect for a quick lunch to eat on a bench in the nearby Boston Common. They also have packaged fresh rolls (vegetables and tofu or shrimp wrapped in rice paper) ready to go, again priced at a reasonable $3. If you’re in the area, or looking to explore a new neighborhood, I highly recommend. Has anyone else found any “hidden neighborhood treasures” for quick and healthy lunches?

– Jean