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Feb 13, 2008 02:41 PM

First Banh Mi Sandwich

I tried to go to Chacarero today for a sandwich but was denied due to the weather and Chacarero being closed early. Being hungry and close to Chinatown I wandered over to Chinatown and to Mei Sum Bakery to try a banh mi. I got a pork banh mi to try. It's an awesome sandwich for $2.50 - good crunchy roll, picked vegetables (carrots and cucumber) and lots of fresh cilantro. The meat is like a cold cut - pressed loaf type of meat but great flavor. Tastes similar to a devilled ham to me. What a great sandwich for very little money!

Thanks to Chowhound for leading me to this little gem - I will be trying other types and am open to recommendations. I also will be trying them from the Super 88 the next time I am out in Allston.


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  1. I don't really think Mei Sum HAS a pork banh mi....They do grilled beef, and tofu, and the 'dac biet', or daily special, which it sounds like you got....I swear, 'pork' spoken by a native English speaker, must sound like 'dac' in Vietnamese... At least, that's what's happened to me the times I've tried to order pork for friends...So, if you go elsewhere, ask for the dac biet, if that's what you want...Other places may actually have grilled pork, a whole other animal...Either way, welcome to the fold! ;)

    14 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      Thanks for clarifying it for me - it was a little suprising to me since it doesn't look like "pork" but it tastes great. I am open to trying the grilled beef and I know that there is a chicken on at the Super 88 to try.

      They are great little sandwiches.

      This has been a great chow week for me so far - I am definitely going to hang out here to pick more tips. :)


      1. re: galleygirl

        I work nearby and have the pork banh mi at Mei Sum more often than I should admit to. They now throw bread in the oven once they see me walk in the door. I say "pork" everytime I order it. I'm no expert, but I don't think it's a daily special. It consists of a "pate" type of spread, head cheese, and other porky goodness I don't quite know how to identify. It is indeed very good. Not sure what the confusion is...

        1. re: adobokid

          What you describe is a basic banh mi, available in most places as 'dac biet'...Many other places have roasted pork, which you get if you order pork. Mei Sum doesn't; when you say pork, you get the dac biet.

          1. re: galleygirl

            I am soo glad that I didn't know that was head cheese before I ate it. LOL. Whatever it's called it sure was tasty.

            1. re: meg1641

              If it makes you feel better, think of it as pate, as I do. I'm not the biggest fan of that traditional bahn mi ... I prefer the BBQ/grilled meat versions. Mmmmmm..... bahn mi.

            2. re: galleygirl

              Since the traditional dac biet (i.e. cold cut) bahn mi is the only one at Mei Sum that actually includes pork, it makes sense that if you order a pork bahn mi, they'll think you mean dac biet. Technically, they're right, there is pork in there.

              If I worked near Chinatown I can't even fathom how many bahn mi sandwiches I'd consume in a month. I could easily eat them 4 out of 5 work days, and since they're relatively healthy, I wouldn't feel too bad about it!

              1. re: heWho

                Picked up one from Mei Sum yesterday after dim sum at CC. Where would you get a real grilled meat one - pork or beef?

                1. re: Taralli

                  Mei Sum does grilled beef, just not grilled pork...ask for it without the sauce (too sweet...)

                  You can get both at the Super88 Food Court, but, of course, the best of any of them (and I know you're intrepid enough to go for it!) is at Ba Bakery, on Dorchester Ave...

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Thanks GG. Noticed a ?new Super 88 on Essex, but didn't venture in - probably should have.

                    1. re: Taralli

                      That market on Essex has been there for a while and Super 88 took it over a few years ago. It, along with C Mart are my "go to" Chinatown markets.

                      1. re: Taralli

                        Sorry, I meant the Vietnamese place at the Super88 in Allston...

                      2. re: galleygirl

                        I am a daily communicant at Ba Le.....I just wish I knew what all the other stuff (hot steam table and packaged things were) Just a little intimidated and the English seems to be limited How about their bubble drinks, I have yet to check them out

                        1. re: deirdeir

                          I justask if it has something I DON'T eat...I point and say "Pork?"
                          I'vemade blunders, but in general, we're talking a $2 mistake, kinda like when you order a dim sum wrong...They often have ready made banh xieo, which look like yellow omelets folded over, but are actually crepes mafe from rice flour, turmeric and coconut milk, with sprouts, shrimp and some pork inside (you can pick out the pork if so inclined). They're great, even for premade...I go for a lot of the little cakes, rolls and salads packed up in styrofoam containers.

                      3. re: Taralli

                        You can get grilled meats at any of the Bahn Mi places in Chinatown, but to my knowledge none of them are grilled to order. I know you can get sliced pork at Siagon Sandwich and Pork Meatball Bahn Mi at Lu's Sandwich Shop right next to C-mart.

              2. Anybody know if Mei Sum is open for dinner take-away? Never been, and I think tonight's the night.

                8 Replies
                1. re: cookboat55

                  To answer your question... I don't know.

                  But, you should consider just running to one or two other places (in addition to Mei Sum) while you're there. Just grab one from each. That's what I did for my first banh mi experience.You can see Lu's from Mei Sum, and just around the corner from Lu's is Saigon Sandwich.

                  1. re: cookboat55

                    Not 100% sure, but the latest I've seen any of the banh mi places stay open is about 6. I'd say you'd have a fresher banh mi experience a little earlier in the day.

                    1. re: finlero

                      Pho Viet's open much later if OP can't get a banh mi in Chinatown.

                    2. re: cookboat55

                      If you mean normal dinner times (i.e., 8pm onward) - I doubt it. Mei Sum is mainly a Chinese Bakery and they usually close by 6pm, maybe 7pm at the latest.

                      1. re: cookboat55

                        Thanks for all these replies. Since it was too late for Chinatown banh mi by the time I finished up at the gym, I had a sinful little meal at O Ya instead. I wanted to see if anything had changed since the Bruni review. Now, I just need to find a long enough lunch hour to get to Mei Sum and Pho Viet someday soon...

                        1. re: cookboat55

                          Wow, going from a bahn mi to O Ya is like going from the Fung Wah to a Rolls Royce Limo!

                          1. re: heWho

                            I know! I don't know what came over me, but I drove past Mei Sum just to scope the location, and my car just drove itself over to East Street. Worth it!

                            1. re: cookboat55

                              Well, they say it's not the actual price tag on the car that costs you, but all the stuff that goes with it: insurance, gas, maintenance, automatically driving to O Ya...

                      2. Has anyone tried Gargoyles bar menu version?
                        Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich
                        pulled pork, bowl of pho, chili aioli

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: gini

                          I just had my first. In a little bahn mi/newsshop on Merrimac st. in Lowell called Nou-y. Is this the one I've seen called "Yummy's"? they were out of pork, so I had the "pate" (head cheese) one. Asked for it spicy, they put Saracha and jalapenos on it (no bird peppers). Very good, crumby crumbly baquette, cucumber, daikon, carrot, cilantro, light on the "butter" or mayo or whatever, I'll have to ask for more next time. Anyone been to this place? Is it a good representative?

                          1. re: raddoc

                            Is that the one just a few doors down from the old Catholic Church? (no idea of the name) If so the sandwiches are reliably wonderful.

                            1. re: qianning

                              I think that's the one. I've gotta go back and try some more.

                              1. re: raddoc

                                assuming we are talking about the smae place (does it even have a sign?) we've been going there for years and they are very consistent, also sometimes they have pre-made sweet sticky rice desserts, those are also worth trying.

                          2. re: gini

                            I tried the Gargoyles bahn mi this week. I'm hesitant to even compare it, but here's the info:
                            Lots of pork. I mean, an overwhelming amount of pork. really, totally out of balance in a regular bahn mi, but paired with a lovely slaw, it actually worked. The pork was of the pulled variety, with a smokiness that was subtle, but lovely. The plate came with an overly sour pho, which Paul the bartender urged us to use as a sort of French dip. I preferred the pho on its own, with nice hints of cinnamon. It's one heck of a sandwich, for sure.

                            By the way, Gargoyles curry duck legs are absolutely succulent.