Subsand (Photo: Teo Jion Chun)How does it feel like eating in on submarine? Located in the Chinatown/International District, Subsand restaurant not only provides authentic Vietnamese sandwiches and Chinese cuisine, customers can look forward to the giant submarine mural for a meal experience in the ocean.

Subsand (Photo: Teo Jion Chun)How does it feel like eating in on submarine? Located in the Chinatown/International District, Subsand restaurant not only provides authentic Vietnamese sandwiches and Chinese cuisine, customers can look forward to the giant submarine mural for a meal experience in the ocean.

After 5 months of renovation, Subsand has more room to accommodate about 20 customers in the restaurant now.

According to the owner Tom Deng, regular customers have always cited the lack of space in the restaurant as a problem.

He said, “Customers told me that the food often get cold when they pack back to office and mentioned that they will come regularly if there is more room to accommodate dine-in guests.”

Subsand, which is a contraction of “Submarine Sandwiches”, combines the soft rolls of an American sub with toppings such as pickled vegetables and marinated meats of Vietnamese banh mi at affordable prices. It also has Chinese-Vietnamese specials such as noodle and rice dishes.

Among them, the BBQ Pork Banh Mi is highly rated by gourmets and remains top choice for regulars. Subsand sells up to 100 sandwiches on a busy day.

Subsand (Photo: Teo Jion Chun)Subsand (Photo: Teo Jion Chun)Deng came to Seattle from Vietnam to study in high school 25 years ago.

He said, “I used to frequent a Vietnamese banhmi outlet but I think the sandwiches could be improved to make it more savory.”

This was when he started planning for a sandwich restaurant that allows customers to build their own sandwiches with filling choices like satay beef and BBQ pork, together with lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

“The sandwiches here are similar to that in Vietnam, except that the presentation of the food is westernized,” said Deng who has 20 years of culinary experience. “Vietnamese cooking methods emphasized the use of fish sauce, lemon grass to enhance the flavor.”

His brother-in-law and his friends taught him many of the other rice and noodle dishes found in the restaurant. A dish – Satay Beef Fried Noodle – came to his mind as he recalled the learning process.

Deng said, “My friend makes very good Satay Beef Fried Noodle. He said it jokingly that he would only teach me if I buy 150 bottles of beer for him. I did it without hesitation and he wrote me the recipe of the dish.”

After experimenting for several weeks, he finally found the perfect match to what he had previously tasted.

Sitting inside the restaurant, it will be hard for the customers to ignore the impressive spray-painted wall murals of hammerhead sharks. The marine creature has been Deng’s favorite since young age and he has spent three months working on the mural during his afternoon break.

Deng said, “The murals are like windows of the submarine, allowing customers to peek at the rich marine life.”

He added that many regular customers have taken the initiative to help him publicize the restaurant on social media and also created websites where they will post the photos of the sandwiches and various dishes.

“There is bound to be criticism when you open a food outlet,” he said. “But most importantly is to look at them with an open heart and find out the cause of dissatisfaction to improve.”

Deng’s passion in his business is obvious. His wife Shuyi Deng said, “His is a very thoughtful person and he always makes sure the food is clean and delicate. This doesn’t only come from me but many customers told us too.”

The father of three is glad to have his wife and distant relatives running the restaurant with him.

He said in all earnestness, “I love cooking as it is a way of self-discovery and I enjoy this process very much.”

Subsand
419 6th Ave S., Seattle, WA 98104 | (206) 682-1267


Behind the ScenesEditor’s note:

Having been a community journalist in the area for a few years, I have begun to appreciate every unique story in our town. From the heartwarming story of a local baker to the glorious past of an army general, these are the stories that motivate me to get up in morning and dig deeper into the picture.

“Behind the Scenes” is a biweekly column that features bite size stories you may overlook from your daily routine.  — Jocelyn Chui

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