Banh Mi in Little Saigon
During the past year or so, I have developed an unhealthy obssession with banh mi, those extraordinary and unbelievably inexpensive sandwiches served in Vietnamese delis.
Recently, the LA Times has spotlighted a couple of delis -- Gala Bakery and Nguyen Huong -- whose sandwiches are great, but not my favorites.
I was just hoping someone else shares my passion and would be willing to share your favorites.
I love banh mi! I always get Banh Mi Ga (shredded chicken) or Banh Mi Cha (kind of a baked pork deal - not sure how to describe in English). Most of the sandwiches are spred with pate (Banh Mi Ga is not), stuffed with whatever meet you choose, some pickled carrots and another vegetable, cilantro, and raw sliced jalapenos. You can order it with or without whatever ingredient you choose. They are very cheap! $1.50-$2.50/sandwich. Some other favorites:
Banh Mi Thit Nuong (bbq'ed thin slices of pork)
Banh Mi Dac Biet (the special - about 3 different meats)
Banh Mi Xiu Mai (pork - like the one from Dim Sum without the skin)
etc, etc, etc...
Some places use baguettes, other places use the regular french bread. It's better with the baguette, but still yummy without.
In the S.F. Valley:
1. The best one is Saigon Sandwich on Victory and Sepulveda (they use baguette). About $2-$2.50/sandwich - they're on the expensive side.
2. Banh Mi Ba Le on Sherman Way and De Soto. About $1.50-$2.00/sandwich.
3. Baguette on sherman Way and Reseda. Similar to Banh Mi Ba Le
The best one is Banh Mi Buu Dien in an open plaza on Broadway near Ord(?).
In Little Saigon (most places use baguette):
Pick a corner. Seriously though, the two I usually go to are Lillian's Bakery and Song Long. Both places use baguette and both are on Bolsa. I don't remember the cross streets, but they're between Magnolia and either Brookhurst or a little after Brookhurst. And, if you're in Little Saigon, you have to pick up some coffee - Cafe Sua Da (iced, milk coffee). The best coffee you'll ever have, and both of the places I mentioned make some of the best. They come with whip-cream on top, unless you don't like it (Heaven forbid!).
Actually, I should do that. Also, re-reading my message, I think I was unclear. My point is that every one of those sandwiches I've tasted regardless of where it was made has been excellent. (There even used to be a drive-through Banh Mi restaurant on Westminster Ave. which, unfortunately, closed.) I agree with the Times (they made great choices), I just don't understand how they were able to narrow it down.
Part of deciding comes down to your preference for baguette or roll. Both are fresh, both are very good. I prefer the roll, though, so the places I recommend tend to use rolls. (Also, I usually don't eat meat except for seafood, but for these sandwiches I have made an exception, because I like them that much.)
Anyway, you can't go wrong with Banh Mi Che Cali on Bolsa Ave. (in the ABC Market Mall) and with Nguyen Huong at 9888 Bolsa Ave. The Times mentioned both of these.
I also like Banh Mi So 1 on Bolsa Ave. in Westminster, the meatless version served at Au Lac on Brookhurst St. in Fountain Valley, and I've found a sardine (actually, kind of a sardine paste) version at a shop on the southwest corner of Westminster Ave. and Magnolia Ave.
All of these sandwiches are inexpensive (under $2.00) and delicious. That's all I could think of off the top of my head. I'll report others as their names come to me.
I have just searched for banh mi and discovered this message board. I live in Texas and we have a good asian population with enough very decent banh mi delis to boast; however, i am currently residing in a town in between the two largest metropolitans, houston and dallas, where the banh mi is below average and i have thought with much careful deliberation to deliver to my town a deli worth houston's and dallas' reputation. i honestly do not know where to start and have queeried deli's in houston and they were of not much help. the only thing i got from one deli is that they order their meat from california. and so, by writing this, i am hoping to find out more about the banh mi and how to get started.