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Feb 21, 2007 11:45 AM

Stick with Banh Mi Che Cali instead of Top Baguette

I like Top Baguette's bread, but I had never had their sandwiches. So, yesterday, as I left my sister's place and drove down Bolsa toward Magnolia, I pulled in and decided to give them a whirl. Their sandwiches leave a lot to be desired. I ordered a #1 without shredded pork and a #6, both with extra mayo. I have a pet peeve about banh mi in that I never feel like any place puts enough mayo on there for my taste. Anyhoo, I pay and wait a few minutes, and when the sandwich lady hands me my "order", she asks me if I ordered the shredded pork sandwich. I say no and the guy who took my order proceeds to tell me that yes, indeed, I had ordered the shredded pork sandwich. I protest, and he follows up by saying that I had ordered the shredded pork sandwich without shredded pork. I then ask him who orders a shredded pork sandwich without shredded pork. He says, "you wanted a #1 without shredded pork, right?" Yes, in fact, I responded, and if you turn around and look at your own menu, you will see that #1 is a special combo and not a shredded pork sandwich. The sandwich lady also points this out to him. Then she tells me that I owe them a quarter because the special combo is a quarter more. I'm even more annoyed at this point and reach into my purse and hand a quarter to her. I then ask if there is extra mayo on the sandwiches. She looks at me confused. The order guy then smiles broadly and says, yes, yes, extra mayo for you. So, the sandwich lady then smiles and nods her head yes, yes. I'm doubtful, but I'm too tired to get into it with him at this point. I grab the sandwiches and drive back to Culver City. When I'm home and I unwrap the sandwiches, sure enough, my #1 special combo sandwich is brimming with shredded pork and drenched in nuoc mam, and neither of the sandwiches has any mayo to speak of whatsoever, much less that "extra" bit they were trying to sell me. Let me mention that I'm Vietnamese and the whole exchange took place in Vietnamese. There was definitely no language barrier. I hated both sandwiches. The idea of Viet shredded pork or nuoc mam on a sandwich is so unappetizing to me. It doesn't belong there and I've never been to a Viet sandwich shop that puts it on there until now. It's one thing I've sort of noticed about Viet eateries here since moving to SoCal. It seems like more often than not, they try to put some type of "nouveau" twist on it, thereby destroying its essence IMHO, but that whole idea is a topic for an entirely different post. Sometimes, I just want it the way I remember it. Oh well,.....

Bottom line, I should've stuck with Banh Mi Che Cali. So far, both Top Baguette and Lee's have been a bust for me.

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  1. Sorry about the bad experience. They do seem somewhat surly at times. While I love the bread, my problem with Top Baguette is their heavy-handedness with hoisin sauce, at least in some of the sandwiches.

    I too am a Banh Mi Che Cali devotee.

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      1. Sorry about your experience at Top Baguette. The man is usually pretty nice when my mom and I roll in. Maybe he's going through manopause??? Anyways, we just go to Top Baguette for baguettes and head to Banh Mi Che Cali for banh mi's. The dac biet banh mi's at Uyenthy across the street have great head cheese and pate but are more pricey.

        1. Banh Mi Che Cali is very good. And the price is very right. And the Che is pretty good too.

          I would like to also give a shout out to KP's Deli in Silverlake. More of a Hoagie size sandwich, but the meat and veggies are very good. A little more expensive, but two people could split one.

          1. Funny thing is, the whole exchange took place with a smile on their end. This is the only reason I chose to keep my annoyance with them in check although the situation itself was quite vexing.

            Vietnamese people are funny about details. The thing is, they usually ignore them. I think that they think life is complicated enough without all the details. I used to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant in Manhattan every week for like a year. I'm unique as far as Vietnamese go because I hate onions. Every week we always had the same waiter, and every week I ordered something and asked them in Vietnamese to hold the onions, and he always responded pleasantly with a smile and a nod. In one year, I never once ate at that restaurant without having to pick the onions out myself. My own Vietnamese mother has been pulling the same stunt on me for decades now....very frustrating to say the least.....