Vietnamese Deli find in Rockville
After a little internal debate, I decided to stop at this little place called "Bale" (their logo has the Eiffel Tower through the center of the name), which is just around the corner of my new home in downtown Rockville (on Rockville Pike, just south of the Wooton Parkway intersection, across from Wintergreen Shopping Center). So glad I did!
They have lots of stuff ready to go - sticky rice with sausage, ubiquitous but good summer rolls and cha gio, and their house rolls with veggies, a bit of omelette, and sausage slices. They even package up their incredibly flavorful cooked lemongrass grilled pork and beef by the pound.
The menu lists many of the usual noodle and rice dishes, plus pho, and they are very well priced - TOP price is $7.95. I haven't had a chance to try these, yet, nor the rice crepes that sound intriguing, because I've only had a chance to grab lunch here a few times.
My lunch has been outstanding - their Banh Mi sandwiches are incredible. I can barely tear myself away from the grilled lemongrass pork sandwich, to be honest. It is perfectly grilled sliced pork, topped with a carrot and daikon salad with cucumber, herbs and a chili kick, on a good 6" french roll -- for $3.00 (this is not a typo!). They also list the traditional pate, headcheese and ham sandwich at $2 (traditional according to "Hot Sour Salty Sweet" regarding "Hanoi Subs"). These sandwiches are so incredibly good.
there's a place in Silver Spring/Takoma Park (on Piney Branch, just west (?) of University Blvd) that also fits this description (same name, same logo). From the sign, you'd guess it's equal parts french and vietnamese, but the smell will promptly disabuse you of that idea - it's a vietnamese place.
i haven't eaten there, but will have to put it on the list.
Thank you a million times! I've probably driven by "Bale" a thousand times without stopping---but your note made me put the India Grill (about a mile south on the pike, alongside the little strip center next to Congressional) leftovers back in the fridge and head up the pike.
The two sandwiches in your report have been sampled and are absolutely wonderful. The rest of the menu will wait until a larger group can convene.
I am so glad you enjoyed it! I tried another place last week that might interest you. There had been a mention in the Post a while back about an oriental market that was considered outstanding, and I decided to drop in for a look since it's around the corner from my new home. It is called Kam Sam Supermarket on N. Washington St. (near the Hungerford intersection). Not only does this place have an overwhelming selection of groceries, the produce, meat and seafood sections are inspiring.
But, the best part about the place for anyone looking for a take out lunch or dinner is the freshly cooked foods. There is a really large assortment of ready-made foods sold by the pound or piece, and they are definitely prepared authentically. There must have been about 25 choices, like various fish dishes (all either whole or chunks still on the bone, like fresh anchovies with hot peppers or small whole fried pomfrey), a few beef or pork dishes (beef spareribs, cut across the bone in a black bean sauce), many tofu-based dishes, and lots of veggies (broad beans in scallion and mint caught my eye). Plus, they have roasted whole chickens and duck, which can be bought by the half, too. None of the 3 women serving spoke enough English to answer my questions about what was in the dishes, so it's a bit of an adventure. And, the prices are excellent - about $3 to $7 per pound for much of what I saw.
There is also a bakery counter, with savory and sweet buns, plus a beautiful selection of pasteries and cakes that would rival any French bakery - I suspect they have a Vietnamese person baking for them.
My little fact-finding visit ended up taking 1-1/2 hours, but only cost me $2.90 (this time!). I had a curry beef bun (for $.70) and carried home a 6-pack of scallion buns ($2.20), but vow to return this week to get a piece of the amazing looking fresh pork belly (about $3/lb) and some small bok choy (on sale for $.39/lb), maybe some squid (about $2/lb.) and a lot of staples to help me expand my home cooking. Oh, did I mention the selection of Chinese sausages????
Yes, Kam Sum has an excellent rep. My chinese neighbor highly recommends getting the "swimming fish", which I believe is a live Tilipia that they kill and filet for you. She steamed it with some black beans and said it was the best, freshest fish she had even made at home! But like you mention, their English is only so-so, so be patient ordering it.