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Banh Mi at Linh's Sandwich - San Mateo

This morning I made a quick stop at the Marina Super in San Mateo (Los Prados Shopping Center) to pick up a few things and made a discovery - a banh mi counter located next to the prepared Chinese food counter (it's inside the market).

The operation is called Linh's Sandwich. The address is 2992 South Norfolk, San Mateo 94403. Phone: 650-921-1598. Hours: Mon-Sun 8:00 am - 7:00 pm.

This counter used to be a sushi take out. A nice young man and woman plus a young boy were running the operation this morning. They've been open for 10 days. They don't have a huge menu, perhaps 6 varieties of banh mi, plus other snacks and noodles (their business card says Pho, Bun Bo Hue, etc.) They have a "special" - any sandwich and a drink (I had cafe sua da) for $4.50. I was impressed at the care that the young man took making my sandwich - nice slices of cucumber, daikon and carrot, cilantro and jalapeno plus the meats and a squirt of what I thought was fish sauce but I was told it was soy. The young woman made my cafe and told me that if it wasn't the way I wanted it, she would re-make it for me. It was fine, if perhaps a bit too sweet but I liked it (like a coffee candy). They also make smoothies.

I'm certainly no authority on banh mi or cafe sua da, but I enjoyed my lunch very much and am happy that we have a place closer than Cupertino or San Jose!

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  1. Oh, I know exactly the counter you're talking about! I am new to Banh mi but love it -- and you've just inspired me to go there for lunch tomorrow if I can get the time. Thanks!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Absonot

      I hope you like it - keep in mind that it really isn't on the level of the places in San Jose but it's better than no banh mi at all (as far as I'm concerned anyway). I liked my sandwich - let us know what you think! The folks had a nice attitude and that counts for a lot with me.

    2. Wow, was just there yesterday and didn't even notice the new banh mi counter! Thanks for the tip. Sounds like it's definitely worth checking out.

      2 Replies
      1. re: VirgoBlue

        It's really easy to just walk by and not realize it's there... I was outside looking at some plums and there was a sign on the window about banh mi - and I was really pleased because there just aren't any around this area. When I went inside I went directly to the prepared food area and didn't see anything so I just kept walking towards the produce section and there it was!!!

        1. re: RWCFoodie

          Thanks for the report I am definitely going to stop by this week and check it out. I've been craving Banh Mi lately and this will do the trick.

      2. Just finished my grilled pork Banh mi - lovely! Now, I'm no expert on the topic, so all I can say is that for $2.50 it was a very satisfying sandwich. The meat was a bit fatty, but but I liked it that way. The vegetables were crisp and fresh. Bread was very crumbly - my desk is covered in crumbs - but I think that's authentic?

        I'm glad to see it there and I will be back!

        1. I checked it out for lunch today - a grilled chicken banh mi and a bbq pork banh mi. The sandwiches have the usual amount of traditional filling and vegetables, but the roll's way too big and I ended up tearing much of it away. It was also day-old. If they'd put their stuff on a tender Lee's-size baguette, which is one of the narrower baguettes you'll find, the lovely ingredients would be in better proportion to the bread, which unfortunately stole the show.

          2 Replies
          1. re: orezscu

            Good call - I felt that there was more roll than needed - should have pulled the middle out but I didn't feel like taking it all apart :-) Next time I stop by I might mention this to them...

            1. re: RWCFoodie

              I think Saigon City's banh mi (in SM) also suffers from the ever-frustrating "where's the beef" syndrome, even though for $2.50 you're getting plenty of meat and fresh vegetables/herbs.

          2. I just went back again today and they've changed the bread. It's a skinnier roll, much more in proportion with the meat. Better than the first one by far.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Absonot

              This is a fine bahn me. I could use a little more "sauce", but the meat was both fatty and tasty, and the pickled objects were tart. I can't compare the rolls with previous, but the ones now are quite good, nice and narrow, and not day old.

              Beats Lee's by a country mile. I haven't tried the San Mateo Saigon Sandwiches yet, which would be the closest competition.

            2. Had a chance to stop the other day: indeed, they have improved the baguette - it was much slimmer and had that "shattering" crisp crust. I seem to be stuck on the #2 sandwich - very tasty. Not too much meat but lots of veggies and all very flavorful. The combo for $4.50 - sandwich plus a smoothie or Vietnamese coffee - is a nice lunch.

              When the young couple with the baby are there, things go pretty quickly but the older woman working that day is on the slow side. She is meticulous though and assembles the sandwich very precisely.

              They are also making the green coconut waffles - but I haven't tried it here. They have a small selection of Viet desserts, salad rolls and lotus/shrimp salad.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RWCFoodie

                Has anyone tried it recently? The last couple of times I've been in the market, the woman working the shop was so unfriendly looking that I just kept walking... such a shame!

              2. Did some shopping earlier tonight and it looks like Linh's is no more. All signage and items are gone, the space is an empty kitchen setup.

                The sign for Basic Soy (old name for Hodo Soy?) is in its place, but upside down. The kitchen there is empty. Next time I'll inquire what's going to be in its place if the Basic Soy sign is a placeholder or really moving in. I know Sogo Tofu (Basic Soy's main parent company) provides tofu fa and a few random Sogo Tofu offerings to all the Marina Food markets.

                1 Reply
                1. re: K K

                  Thanks KK - I was afraid that was going to happen... the young couple at the beginning were so nice and they made a good banh mi - (sigh) - so it's off to San Jose when the banh mi craving gets going... Everything I've read about other places in the San Mateo area who make anything even remotely resembling banh mi are not very encouraging... Do you know of any place mid-pen that's decent?

                2. Dropped by Marina Foods yesterday and the place that housed Linh's is now a new business run by an older couple called Simply Ramen. Upwards of 6 versions/flavors to choose from at $5.50 to $5.75 a pop and it appears they serve their noodle soups in these styrofoam cups. Cash only, it seems. I wish these folks good luck, but bottom line is this spot has the worst feng shui given the eventual turnover of occupants, from Basic Soy to some sushi bento place to Linh's and now "Simply Ramen".