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what the heck happened to mr. baguette???!

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it used to be neck and neck, mr. baguette and lee's sandwiches in the sgv. lee's doesn't have grilled beef, so mr. baguette always got points there. BUT, i'm holding in my hand the vestiges of what mr. baguette used to be - a completely boring chicken sandwich with (big WTH here) a little baggy of the most boring viet veggies ever! it's just a few shreds of daikon and carrot, and two slices of pepper. WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO THE CILANTRO AND THE CUCUMBER? they seem to have been slowly getting stingier and stingier ever since they expanded, first offering completely unnecessary "western-style" lettuce and tomato baguettes, and now this nonsense.

the war is over. lee's has won. that is, unless... i'm missing some secret ordering code where they'll actually put some cilantro and cucumber into my sandwich.

need alternatives. how does the banh mi che cali on valley in alhambra compare btw?

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  1. They are very stingy on the veggies nowadays, and'll charge if you want more. Bahn Mi Che Cali gives a bunch of veggies at no extra charge, but I don't recall them having cilantro or cucumber.

    1. wow, sounds horrible. GGPO mr. baguette

      1. I really like the chicken (#5) at Mr. Baguette. At Banh Mi Che Cali the chicken isn't seasoned the same. It's good, but not as good. Plus the sandwiches are cheaper at Banh Mi Che Cali.

        I haven't had a sandwich at Mr.Lee's, so I can't compare with them, but I've been meaning to. I've heard from other people that they thought the quality of the sandwich had gone down at Mr. Baguette too. The only reason I keep going back is for that chicken sandwich.

        As long as I've been going to Mr. Baguette I never saw them serve their sandwich with cilantro and cumcumber. (But I've only started going there for about a year now). I always have to get extra veggies with my sandwich since I like a lot! It's a whole 35 cents now. It use to be 25 cents. Their sandwiches increased about 20 cents too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bigtums

          they used to do a full deal veggie assortment... in the beginning, they didn't bag em separately. then they started to. then they slowly lost the cilantro and cucumber. now, it's just a mush of carrots and daikon. yea, a year ago would have been too recent. i'm thinking maybe at least 3-5 years ago? maybe even longer. mr. baguette was my default banh mi for a long time, ever since i discovered banh mi sometime during the last century...

        2. Check out Baguette du Jour on Valley just east of Fremont Ave. I love their BBQ beef banh mi and they bake their baguettes daily.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Ernie

            I always pass this place on my way to the Boiling Crab. I've heard so many mixed things about that place. I didn't know they baked their baguettes daily. I'll give them a try this week.

            1. re: Ernie

              Have you ever had the "Pork of the House" sandwich at Mr. Baguette? It's not a banh mi one, so it's like $4, but it's so good. I wonder if it's like the BBQ beef one at Baguette Du Jour.

              1. re: Ernie

                I just had my first Baguette du Jour sandwich today. I got the beef like you had recommended and it was good. They put the cucumber and cilantro in, so that's good too.

                I personally like the bread at Mr.Baguette more-BUT...the guy working at Baguette Du Jour was so nice. So I will be back there for sure to try the chicken sandwich (ga) or meatball one.

                The egg rolls were pretty good too. He threw in some sauce for the egg rolls and it was just a REALLY REALLY REALLY sweet ketchup-strangely I really liked it.

                1. re: bigtums

                  I've had Baguette du Jour a few months back. The gent behind the counter is indeed a nice guy but the bread/meats were just craptastic.

                  mr baguette never tasted that good to me. the bread may be first rate, but they were always so darn stingy w/ the meats.

                  we're having a 7-way (and now maybe 8 since I just drove by Banh Mi My Tho) BM taste-off in 2 wks. will re-review with a 10-person scoring team...

                  1. re: TonyC

                    Banh mi my tho is my next stop this week, hopefully tomorrow. I can't wait to hear your reviews!

              2. I don't think they've had cilantro and cucumbers as part of the veggie pack for a while now.

                The only veggies that come with the sandwiches are carrots, daikon, green and red bell peppers.

                There might have been cucumbers long, long ago ... back before the place had a plasma tv perhaps.

                9 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  You know, now that I think about it. I don't remember vietnamese sandwiches ever coming with cucumbers. Granted it's been a few years but...

                  isn't the magic formula

                  bread -> crazy mayo -> pate -> meat -> daikon -> carrot -> cilantro -> peppers -> MAYBE a touch of black pepper or soy sauce

                  1. re: ns1

                    For me, it's all about the pate and the bread. Everything becomes secondary, and really is just filler for me.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      for what that's worth ipse, would you say lee's or mr. baguette has the better pate? this time out, my chicken was dry and crumbly as a bone, didn't even notice much of a pate on it at all!

                      1. re: rameniac

                        Man, I think you definitely god screwed all around.

                        FWIW, I think Mr. Baguette has the better pate, but that might just be because I go there more often than I do to Mr. Lee's. Not even sure why that is, now that I think about it.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I haven't been to Mr. Baguette in a few months, but it always had demonstrably better pate and charcuterie than Lee's - that livery spread on the dac biet sandwich is key - and the bread was leagues better. The vegetable packets I can't speak to, because I always comandeered my chile-loathing compatriots' pickles and piled them on my own sandwich anyway.

                    2. re: ns1

                      I grew up eating Vietnamese sandwiches, and they always had cucumbers in them.

                      1. re: hch_nguyen

                        Me too, light years before Lee's it was Banh Mi Che Cali. Sandwiches had:

                        bread
                        pate
                        buttery/mayo spread
                        meat
                        cucumber
                        cilantro
                        pickled daikon and carrot
                        jalapenos
                        maybe splash of soy sauce on depending on the type of meat

                        The whole thinly sliced white onion is a newer Lee's thing.

                    3. re: ipsedixit

                      it might have been in the B.P. (before plasmas) era. also, the cucumbers might have just been my foggy memory, but i do recall a lot more green in the mix. i definitely need me the cilantro, and those big, long sliced peppers that occasionally kill you when you get an errant supercharged piece. this time out, i got 2 peppers cut the size of dimes!

                      1. re: rameniac

                        No, trust me, there definitely was cucumbers at one time.

                        Also, and this was a loooong time ago, I used to get banh mi sandwiches (before they were ubiquitous) at a little kiosk in Honk Kong supermarket at the corner of Garfield and Garvey, and they had the best pate and freshest veggies, incl. cilantro and cucumbers ... all for 0.99. I used to tell them to go easy on the veggies because it got in the way of eating the sandwich.

                    4. Hey rameniac,

                      Haha, I concur with you on Mr. Baguette, but it's been that way for a while now. :( I was pretty shocked and upset also (about 6 months ago), when I went for a repeat visit and found out they don't have Cilantro anymore, and they serve the lame other veggies separated out in a plastic bag, prepackaged. :( It's a Vietnamese sandwich, how can you not have Cilantro?!

                      That being said, IMHO, Lee's Sandwich sucks. I grew up on fresh, crunchy bread with my Vietnamese sandwiches. Lee's Sandwiches are always served with soft, mushy bread (every single visit, to 4 different Lee's locations). My Vietnamese friends concur with me as well. It just doesn't taste like a true Viet sandwich. And the last 2 times I went to 2 different Lee's locations, their meat tasted "old" (that "not fresh" taste that you can taste when the chicken or pork or pate has been sitting around).

                      In the San Gabriel Valley, I found a surprise shop that I think is great!

                      Baguette City (Banh Mi Do Thanh)
                      9505 E. Garvey Ave., #A
                      South El Monte, CA 91733
                      626-350-7099

                      It says "South El Monte," but it's literally 1 block away from Rosemead and Garvey. They bake their bread fresh multiple times a day. I've enjoyed it much more than any of the other places in the SGV.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: exilekiss

                        oo thanks for this! i started off with mr. baguette after my mom "discovered" the place the late 90s (back in the cucumber days). lee's i'd always considered a reasonable alternative - but in general i don't eat banh mi too often, so i've only been there a handful of times, all told. the only other place on my radar has been che cali, as mentioned on CH (but i've actually yet to try it), so any other recommended places are most welcome!

                      2. I was introduced to Banh Mi My Tho by a former co-worker and have found it to be quite good and consistant!

                        Banh Mi My Tho
                        304 W Valley Blvd
                        Alhambra, CA 91801
                        Phone: (626) 289-4160

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Mos

                          Agree. Their Ga is great. SGV's BMCCz haven't offered cilantro for a while now. Don't know about the ones in the OC, though. As for baggies... most places used to ask if you want the veggies 'inside/out.' I don't remember being asked anywhere lately. Why are all these places declining simultaneously? Cartel?

                          1. re: Mos

                            I just saw a cross section shot of their meatball sandwich on another site. Wow! I'm so there.

                            1. re: Mos

                              Had my first Banh Mi My tho today, well actually I tried four different sandwiches. They were good, the chicken was the best with the BBQ pork coming in a close second. The egg rolls were REALLY good, I'm glad I tried this place. I'm fixin to try Baguette Express next.

                            2. My dear fellow hounds, I gave up on both Mr. Baguette and Lee's, AKA the megastores of banh mi operations, years ago. Mr. Baguette was too stingy with the veggies and hasn't offered cilantro for over 2 years now. The last time I went to Mr. Baguette was last Thanksgiving when I brought banh mi to work for my co-workers. I only resorted to Mr. B because Baguette Express was closed.

                              After trying several banh mi places on Valley Blvd, my default place is now Baguette Express a few blocks west of SG Blvd, next to Howard's appliances, where the baguettes are fresh, the meats, the veggies, and cilantro are plentiful. Their sandwiches are terrific and very tasty. I always see trays and trays of fresh baguettes there and more trays waiting to go into the oven. Their baguette has the proper light, crispy crust with a slight chew.

                              I've been too scared to go to Banh Mi Che Cali in SG (although I was a fan of the original one in Little Saigon) since I saw the "C" rating in their window a few months back. There is now a "B" rating @ Banh Mi Che Cali, but I'm concerned about an establishment which handles charcuterie and raw vegetables sinking to a "C" rating in the first place.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: apfb

                                lol health ratings? what's that?

                                1. re: apfb

                                  Hey apfb,

                                  Yup, I was in the same shoes as you (giving up on both Lee's and Mr. Baguette a while ago). You should try the new banh mi place I found a few months ago that I mentioned above (they bake their own bread fresh several times a day) (and it's not that far from Valley & Rosemead if that's your usual hangout).

                                  Baguette City (Banh Mi Do Thanh)
                                  9505 E. Garvey Ave., #A
                                  South El Monte, CA 91733
                                  626-350-7099

                                  1. re: exilekiss

                                    Thanks, exilekiss, for the tip. We're way up north in Pasadena, but a hound is willing to travel for great chow. We'll check out Baguette City.

                                    We had Baguette Express yesterday. The vegetables included pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cucumbers, jalapenos, and cilantro. There was plenty of all of the aforementioned vegetables in the sandwich.

                                  2. re: apfb

                                    I 2nd Baguette Express. By far my favorite

                                    1. re: RoxyGrl

                                      There is a bahn mi place facing Valley, right near Superstore that was good, although I like Lee's the best (I probably ordered headcheese or pork roll, not pate though as I am not a fan). I saw the "C" at Bahn Mi Che Cali too, so I went to this other place. Just a few tables

                                      1. re: noshie

                                        Are you talking about Ba Le, or something like that. It's on the corner of Valley and Atlantic?

                                        If it is that place, the people there are really nice. The sandwich was okay, for me at least.

                                        1. re: bigtums

                                          If you are standing in the parking lot in front of the entrance to Superstore, you make a right, go the sidewalk, make another right for just a little bit, and its there (with a small parking lot next to it) on Valley (I am not good on the street names out there, so not sure if this is Atlantic). I like Lee's the best though, including that later hours drive-through one down the street from 888 (which is a great place to stop on the way to Vegas, you get a bahn mi and a Vietnamese iced coffee and you are good to go).

                                        2. re: noshie

                                          Which location was that? I've been to both. The new one on the west end of Valley Blvd. was a little dodgy and the quality wasn't as good as the one on the east side. Would love to know which one got the C.

                                    2. I live in the French speaking part of Switzerland and in the US. It was always a pleasure to go to Mr. Baguette because its baguettes are as good as the baguettes I'm used to in Europe and better even than some. I found their quality to be (have been?) better than Mr. Lee's, whose baguette crust is chewy. In fact, when some French friends came to stay, I treated them to Mr. Baguette's sandwiches.

                                      Today, after I returned from a trip to the Rosemead branch and eagerly started to eat, I noticed that the sandwiches were terrible. I did notice that it seemed to have an all new and much smaller staff instead of the professional ones that were there previously. The prices have gone up and the menu board has less options than before.

                                      Has Mr. Baguette changed hands? I would never return to it after such a disappointment.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: DavelZ

                                        I was there very recently too. And the bread quality has gone shockingly way down. I used to really like their bread. I thought the prices were pretty much the same, and didn't really notice about the selection since I just wanted the chicken bahn mi.

                                        1. re: slacker

                                          I was there last around May and the baguettes were good as always. I bought a baguette this last trip and the woman asked me whether I wanted it hot. Baguettes should be fresh but not hot, the crust would be too soft while its hot. The question threw me for awhile, it was never asked before and certainly not in the European patisseries. After I got home, I was disappointed in it. They still used the same machines but apparently used cheaper grade of flour. So the crust still had some semblance to the original but the texture (no body - squeeze it and it flattens into a patty), taste, and fragrance were completely unacceptable.

                                          I realized after my posting that the real Vietnamese bah mi (sic?) part of the menu was not there and only the Americanized sandwiches were offered. The Vietnamese sandwiches came in the same paper sleeves as the baguette, while the Americanized ones come in a clear plastic box. Instead of the baggie of pickled veggies, there were two jalapeno peppers, a packet of yellow mustard, and a droopy pickle. Yeachhhhhh!!!!! The original message spoke of the smaller portions and ingredients in the veggies bag, but now there is no veggie bag and lousy ingredients!

                                          1. re: DavelZ

                                            Are you sure you were looking at the entire menu? The bahn mi is there. They still put the veggies in a plastic baggie, maybe slightly less than before. But the bread was terrible, it was stale, just bad. I was last there a couple or few weeks ago.

                                      2. I just went to Saigon Deli on Garvey and Ynez in Monterey Park. (Newly opened, although there was another Vietnamese place at this location until several months ago.) Sandwiches are $1.95 and they have cucumber and cilantro (along with the standard carrots, daikon, and peppers). Seems like less meat though, but if you value the veggies more then you might check this out.