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Best Bahn Mi in SGV?

young_chower Dec 20, 2006 10:35 PM

I will be going to the SGV for dim sum on friday and plan to grab a bahn mi in the area to take home. Which is the best place? My search through the archives seem to point to Bahn Mi Che Cali. Any other recs? Thanks!

  1. monkuboy Jan 11, 2008 10:49 AM

    I've only tried Lee's and Mr. Baguette but I prefer Mr. Baguette. The bread at Lee's is way too hard and the filling isn't all that great, either. However, I hate driving down Valley Blvd. because it is so crowded! Are there are decent places that are in less crowded areas, like San Gabriel, Temple City, Arcadia that are good? (I'm lazy and I hate driving in traffic!)

    4 Replies
    1. re: monkuboy
      Velvet Elvis Jan 11, 2008 11:33 AM

      My suggestion is to learn the side roads and cut through the neighborhoods to avoid valley. I find that it saves me a lot of time and frustration. Avoiding the traffic in that area can make dining there much more pleasant.

      1. re: Velvet Elvis
        monkuboy Jan 11, 2008 01:24 PM

        That's what I do but sooner or later you end up at .... Valley. The worst street in the SGV! Lee's has an outlet, but Mr Baguette is pretty much landlocked. You're stuck no matter which way you go there. I was looking for something closer to home, though.

      2. re: monkuboy
        exilekiss Jan 11, 2008 08:08 PM

        Hey monkuboy,

        I've found a place that bakes their own bread fresh multiple times a day. IMHO, the best Banh Mi in the SGV:

        Baguette City
        Banh Mi Do Thanh
        9505 E. Garvey Ave., #A
        South El Monte, CA 91733

        They're literally 1.5 blocks East of Rosemead & Garvey. Very convenient, and much easier than getting into the crowded Valley section of town. ;)

        Good prices, tasty, great stuff! :)

        1. re: exilekiss
          monkuboy Jan 12, 2008 12:22 PM

          We just got back from Mr. Baguette.. and the Valley Blvd. traffic. Next time we will try your suggestion - thanks!

      3. k
        kjs Jan 11, 2008 08:26 AM

        i've said it before , you have one of the best "corner of food " in so cal - che cali, 888, vann's bakery, claro's deli ( italian ) and one of the best "traditional " pizza places - petrillo's !! yes...farmers market is more concentrated and has more variety, but this little 1/4 mile stretch on valley is very special...

        1 Reply
        1. re: kjs
          TonyC Jan 11, 2008 08:50 AM

          I've eaten at quite a few banh mis on Valley: both Bales, both Che Calis, Mr. Baguette, Baguette Express, Saigon Bakery, My To, Baguette du jour, and Paris Bakery on Garey.

          for about 6 months worth of time, the Western Che Cali was where I went simply because it was cheap and close. I got tired of the lines along with the annoying wait and started seeking alternatives.

          My Tho is where I've been going for the last few weeks. Biggest sandwiches, friendliest order desk (not that it matters). Wait's just as bad as Che Cali's but the sui mai is pretty decent, the dac biets are HUGE and the gai is better than Che Cali. Plenty of pate, good ratio of meat/veg, half decent bread. Not to mention they're totally OG (opened before Mr. B, etc.).

          easily the worst sandwich is at du jour. inedible bun, stingy stuffing. worst deal is probably Mr. Baguettes; way too expensive now, severe quantity throttling by staff. the worst yogurt must be the house-made (?) yogurt from the Eastern Bale. It just tasted funk and almost knocked my stomach to the floor. not quiet sure what was wrong there.

          One of these days, i shall post up all the stinkin' banh mi comparo pix i've taken...

        2. d
          Dr. Cristina Jan 11, 2008 07:47 AM

          Bahn mi che cali is so far the best in my book... Lee's their bread is too crusty and end up making the roof of my mouth kinda sore... I was at Banh mi che cali last week and they have upped their price... I think it's up to 2.00 a pop now... But you still get that buy 2 get one free deal for the sub rolls but the baguette style is 2.00.... Still worth it... They also have a huge variety on other bake goods and banh cuon made fresh as soon as u order it... so yah!!!!

          1. a
            africanizedkiller Dec 25, 2006 02:13 AM

            Banh Mi My Tho
            304 W Valley Blvd
            Alhambra, CA 91803

            ... has the best Banh Mi Ga around if you're into the peppery, Chicken salad-like non-sesame kind. Their other fillings are good too but not outstanding. The parking situation is rough when the line's out the door like on Sunday mornings.

            1 Reply
            1. re: africanizedkiller
              phant0omx Jan 14, 2008 11:24 AM

              i tried this place yesterday. very good imo. the bread was nice and crusty outside and nice and soft inside. i had the sausage/meatball one. anyhoo that was my first impression.

              will have to venture out to this place more and try the chicken and other menu items.

            2. y
              yum Dec 22, 2006 02:06 PM

              i recommend baguette express on valley, near del mar. i like mr. baguette too

              1. raytamsgv Dec 21, 2006 07:23 PM

                Another vote for 888 and Bahn Mi Che Cali. The food will be good, and you won't need to drive and park elsewhere.

                1 Reply
                1. re: raytamsgv
                  Will Owen Dec 22, 2006 12:27 AM

                  We're usually so stuffed after a dim sum blast at 888 that we can't do more than stare longingly into the cases at Banh Mi Che Cali. One day, though, we were there with the gang, and spent so much time talking and nosing around all the other shops afterwards that I eventually decided I did in fact have room for a nice little sandwich. Glad I did - I can't say how it would compare, as that was my first, but it was utterly delicious and awfully easy to devour.

                2. t
                  tdonline Dec 21, 2006 01:56 PM

                  Oh just wanted to add that the traditional baguette is very good at Saigon also. My mom sometimes forgoes the banh mi and just munches on a baguette. Simple and tasty.

                  1. monku Dec 21, 2006 01:26 AM

                    Bahn Mi Che Cali at the 888 address is pretty interesting. Not only Bahn Mi but lots of other Vietnamese deserts and delicacies.

                    While you're in the area go east about a mile or so and you'll see Mr. Baguette on the right side and on the left side will be Lee's Sandwiches. Must be their new flagship type location-they've got everything there including ice cream they make on the premises in American flavors and Asian flavors. The drive up window when its open will be open 24 hours a day.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: monku
                      tdonline Dec 21, 2006 01:51 PM

                      Saigon Bakery on San Gabriel and Valley, front of the huge parking lot for the behemoth supermarket.

                      I went to Mr. Baguette for awhile and really wanted to like it, but finally decided that it just wasn't very good. I know they are proud of making their own bread, but the bread is too damn hard and crunchy for banh mi. I like extra crunchy baguettes for certain items but not for banh mi. The stuffing is way too austere. I once asked for a little more veggies (which are in tiny bags) and I was told only if I paid extra. That was the last time I went to Mr. Baguette. This was over two years ago and so things may have changed.

                      1. re: tdonline
                        Vicster Dec 22, 2006 12:13 AM

                        I second Saigon Bakery. The viet sandwiches there are awesome and it is definitely worth it to buy a few baguettes to take home too.

                    2. e
                      Ernie Dec 21, 2006 12:00 AM

                      Baguette du Jour in Alhambra on Valley Bl. $2.50 for BBQ beef banh mi on a freshly baked baguette.

                      1. ipsedixit Dec 20, 2006 11:41 PM

                        Ba Le.

                        1. k
                          kotatsu Dec 20, 2006 11:05 PM

                          I have yet to experience bahn mi che cali, but if you are at NBC, there is a Mr. Baguette in the same shopping center. Mr. Baguette is definitely my personal fave. Lee sandwiches has nothing on these guys.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kotatsu
                            monku Dec 21, 2006 01:32 AM

                            I don't know. Lee's Sandwiches has about 30+ locations and Mr. Baguette has two.

                            I find the sandwiches at Mr. Baguette to be a little on the lean side for the price. For the price $1.50 at Bahn Mi Che Cali you can't beat it for the price and quality. Plus you can get that Vietnamese iced coffee for $1.25.


                          2. wilafur Dec 20, 2006 10:43 PM

                            kill 2 birds with one stone. go to 888 seafood for dim sum and walk over to banh mi che cali as they are literally next door to each other.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: wilafur
                              young_chower Dec 20, 2006 10:45 PM

                              Sorry. Probably going to NBC or Sea Harbor to get acquainted with cart style dim sum before I move into the New Age stuff. Thanks though.

                              1. re: young_chower
                                wilafur Dec 20, 2006 10:48 PM

                                888 seafood is, and has always been, cart style dim sum.

                                1. re: wilafur
                                  young_chower Dec 20, 2006 11:13 PM

                                  My mistake.

                                2. re: young_chower
                                  Chowpatty Dec 20, 2006 10:56 PM

                                  Sea Harbour is not cart style, and is probably about as "new age" as you'll get. Still, I highly recommend it and you can go to Baguette Express after on Valley Blvd. I don't really see any necessity to learn about dim sum in any particular order -- why not just start with what's good?

                                  1. re: young_chower
                                    Das Ubergeek Dec 20, 2006 11:58 PM

                                    You could do a lot worse than 888 Seafood -- I went in a week ago to get takeout dim sum and the stuff on the carts looked fantastic. This was about 11 AM.

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                      Pei Dec 21, 2006 12:12 AM

                                      Count me in as another 888 fan. I know what you mean by "old school" when you say NBC, but 888 is traditional enough that I don't categorize it as "new age." New age is some of the shiny upscale dim sum places you find in SF...but this is the wrong board.

                                      888 has enough dishes to satisfy the dim sum traditionalist, with new things available to keep it exciting.

                                      Last visit a week or two ago, the egg tarts were fantastic. The rest of the food was great, but the egg tarts were tripled ordered and then taken home by my sister the egg tart queen.

                                      1. re: Pei
                                        b0ardkn0t Jan 11, 2008 10:54 AM

                                        or for that matter Rowland Heights or Walnut

                                  2. re: wilafur
                                    krushdnasty Dec 20, 2006 10:59 PM

                                    "go to 888 seafood for dim sum and walk over to banh mi che cali as they are literally next door to each other."

                                    hey thats great news. I always go to seaharbor, this will give an additional reason to try out 888! when you guys say "best" banh mi... do you mean great crackly/spongy bread also? Thanks!!

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