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Mar 22, 2006 07:17 PM

Ba Le Meatball Bahn Mi (w/pic) ongoing series...

  • g

Enjoyed my meatball bahn mi from Ba Le in El Cerrito today. As you can see from the image it's well filled. Not as over the top generous as Vietnamese Sandwich (formerly Wrap Delight) - about on par with Saigon Sandwich's meatball bahn mi. But the filling was very savory and probably my favorite of these three. With Saigon Sandwich a close second in flavor.
There was something about the flavor of Vietnamese Sandwich's meatball that just missed with me - still a good deal for such a generous sandwich - maybe the filling will reasonate more with someone else's taste? I remember having some sandwiches from Saigon that were also more generous in the amount of filling - maybe the chicken? Anyways, I'm glad to have Ba Le in the vicinity. $2.00 for this particular sandwich - money well spent.
10174 San Pablo Ave. El Cerrito 94530 510. 528-8882



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  1. Thanks for the photo and the info. I've only had the BBQ chicken Bahn Mi there and love it. I'll have to try the meatball next.

    1. It's actually $2.25, but you haven't understated it's value. What a great sandwich shop. My favorite sands there are the BBQ Pork and BBQ Chicken (I've only been there three times). The Shredded Pork Sand was a bit salty for my taste.


      3 Replies
      1. re: J T

        Maybe they're still adjusting their prices because the board actually lists this sandwich, number 5, as $1.99. When he handed me $3.00 back in change I didn't ask for the penny (felt well off today) So that's why I listed the price as $2.00 .... :~)

        1. re: Gordon Wing

          In the Vietnamese custom, they are doing you a favor so that you don't have to 'worry about pennies'. No it's not a lapse in their process, and it's not malicious.

          You can always ask them for the penny, and they'll gladly oblige.

          Works the other way too: it the total bill is $2.01, they'll take your $2.00.

          I've seen this practice in Pakistani placess too.

          1. re: s

            thanks for the insight ....

      2. Hey! I just had that same sandwich at Ba Le. Thanks for the continuing series.

        I give Saigon Sandwich the edge, but considering I'd have to pay $3 toll and, what, $500 in gas these days, I am too glad to have Ba Le in the nabe.

        Your post last year FINALLY pulled me in here (that and I think I've tried every other joint in El Cerrito).

        Your last meat ball bahn mi post inspired me to try the meatball here. Which variety of sandwich do you like the best at Ba Le? Do you know if that bacon bahn mi is the same type of bacon you would get with Denny's breakfast ... or is it some sort of Vietnamese bacon, if there is such a thing?

        Have you tried any of the other Vietnamese food there?
        - steam rice noodle w/pork cake (bahn uot)
        - steam rice noodle rolls w/pork cake (bahn cuon)
        - spicy beef noodle (bun, bo hu)
        - beef noodle soup (pho bo)
        - chicken noodle soup (pho ga)
        - vermacelli with bbq chicken (bun ga nuong)
        - steam rice with bbq chicken (com ga nuong)

        Cool, I now know the words for noodle, beef, chicken and soup in Vietnamese.

        Anything not on the take-out menu to pay attention to?

        Thanks for making me aware of this place long ago.

        4 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          Here's an article about Ba Le that answers many of these questions. Reading this several months ago got me to try it, and I've been back there A LOT since.


          1. re: rworange

            I am partial to the bbq pork sandwich, as it satisfies my salty/sweet/cheap/fast needs like nothing else. I occasionally get bbq chicken and other "safe" (identifiable to me, the sissy) fillings. The summer rolls are fine, the papaya salad is way hot. I like the salad, but it is impossible for me to eat. I hoped it was a one-time problem, but each time I have got it, it was the same. The prices are posted on the board, mostly $2.00 to $2.50, but the same guy charges me a different amount every time. Always within 2-2.50.

            1. re: rworange

              Do they offer any vegetarian or fish sandwiches?

              1. re: ariana

                They have a veggie Bahn Mi with tofu that I haven't tried yet. Don't think there's another veggie sandwich, but I don't have access to the menu right now.

            2. great photo!

              I've not had the meatball bahn mi there yet... I'll try it soon.

              It's fun to try their desserts and random things in the fridge too (hmmm... I'll take the creamy green gelatinous thing and a can o' grass jelly juice.)

              The great thing too is that $10 really goes a long way there.

              1. Ba Le definitely is my favorite of the bahn mi shops that I've tried (based on a sampling of more than a hundred sandwiches from Ba Le, two from Saigon Sandwich, two from Baguette Express(?), and two from Bahnwich). Ba Le's, I think, are less sauced. And the rolls seem to be slightly hollowed out and toasted a little bit more. The sauces in the SF places are not my preference. (Not to start an SF/EC bahn mi flamewar or anything...)

                In reference to other posts:

                The bacon is not American breakfast bacon. It's more coldcut like, maybe halfway between the bacon in a fastfood hamburger and Canadian bacon.

                I've never been charged incorrectly there. However, sometime in the last year they raised the prices by a quarter.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sfguy

                  good observation about the rolls at Ba Le being hollowed out .... I rechecked my images of Saigon Sandwich, Vietnamese Sandwich and Ba Le ... less interior bread at Ba Le. That has the effect of making the filling seem a bit more substantial? Anyways, it works. The first time I saw the bacon sandwich option I was hoping for some more fatty slices of pork belly maybe cooked until the meat was crispy but still with some richness from the layered fat ... but that doesn't seem to be the case anywhere I've tried.... :~(