The Search for Perfect Banh Mi
The banh mi I crave is the traditional variety - pate/mayo/cilantro/chiles/pickled daikon and carrots/cold cuts on a toasted french baquette/hoagie.
I've tried Ba Le, but their pate was not right all. There is a to-go booth outside a pho haunt on Wash Ave. that I've relied on, but the cold cuts are hit or miss. I also tried Pho Cali in Chinatown per a chowhoud rec, but they only served pork and beef banh mi (the pork was dry and useless).
Now that I've found the perfect pho at Pho Le on Wash Ave., I need the perfect banh mi to round it out. Any suggestions?
In his online chat today, Craig LaBan listed these three as his favorite banh mi places...
Cafe Huong Lan, (1037 S. 8th St)
Ba Le on Washington and 11th
O Sandwiches (9th St, next to La Lupe)
The Ba Le? It's okay. I've had better.
I've never had the perfect "traditional" one in Philadelphia (and really, perfect traditional?) - I leave that mantle for Houston and the dozen or so places that use fresh, homemade mayo. I contend that the best "banh mi nhan ..." in the city is not traditional and is often called a tofu hoagie - the Fu Wah/Vietnam/Vietnam Cafe folks make it. :)
There's a good place on the south side of Christian a few blocks east of 9th St., I'm not sure exactly which block though.
I live at 9th and Fitzwater and adore banh mi, so I've been to a bunch of the places nearby. Cafe Nhuy on Christian between 9th and 10th is definitely the best, but it's been closed for the past month or so (I think the owners are on vacation--it's scheduled to reopen around the 20th of March). I actually think some of O Sandwiches are decent as well, although their special (ie the one with the coldcuts) is a bit lacking. I've only had Huong Lan once, but their bread was sub-par. Good luck--report back if you can!