There are many things I don’t know about the city, like how this stretch of Kingsway, with Vietnamese storefronts slightly outnumbering their Anglo and Chinese counterparts, is known as Little Saigon. I also have no idea that Tung Hing Bakery is supposed to be a bahn mi destination.
The present tense gives me goose bumps in a bad way. I type in the present tense and I tensely cringe. I can’t.
Formal designations gives me expectations. I see the words “Little Saigon”…strike that. I am not “seeing” the words “Little Saigon”. I saw them. I saw the words on one of those flag-banners on the black metal poles along Kingsway and saliva-triggering memories of the other Little Saigon’s I’ve visited became immediately projected by my mind’s eye onto a thought bubble in the virtual space between where my tallest hair ended and where the bottom of the ceiling of my car extended. I craved.
Long sandwich. Cheap sandwich. Filling sandwich. Great value for money paid.
Disappointing sandwich. Stab me with the bread and I bet it would crumple up into a mushy mess instead of disintegrating into powder and flakes. The bread was stale. The bread was hard to bite off. It was like they used leftover bread. I almost shed two drops of disappointed tears when I first bit into the bread and it bit back into me. My expectations of great bahn mi died a swift, immediate death on my first bite. Bite. Died.
Once you get that negativity motor revving, it just keeps on going…
The pickled carrots and daikon tasted like they weren’t pickled enough. And as odd as it sounds, the cucumber and parsley tasted too fresh. They were both too juicy and too crunchy and too lacking in flavours. The juice and crunch were the only sensations that reverberated in my mouth as I was working my way through the sandwich. The weak pickles did not register. Nor did the cold cuts and the slice of pork belly. The slice of uncured bacon surprised me and excited me when I saw that it before I ate it. When I ate it it felt like nothing. Like the nothing that was the other slices of cold cuts. I felt that they were layered too thin. I felt that the pate was missing. I felt that the mayo was watery.
The stale bread. The stale bread from a place that dares call itself a bakery killed the sandwich. Killed it like snuffing out its light and not killed it like nailed it.
There are advantages to be almost middle-aged. There are things that I absolutely know. I know that stale bread sucks. I know that the bahn mi at Tung Hing sucked. I know that there is a less a than 0.1% chance I will return to Tung Hing for their suckie sandwich. I know that hating the present tense is irrational. I know that I just typed in the present tense.
I know that, at present, I I do not know why the hell everyone else seems to be so smitten with the Vietnamese sandwiches at Tung Hing Bakery.