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Jun 16, 2008 09:10 AM

Where oh where can I find a freshly made Banh Mi or Vietnamese Sandwich??

The only place I've found so far is in China town and its off a "truck" that is stationed not far from the railroad tracks..these are "ok" but I used to get some really FRESH ones in Seattle.. so I know its possible...

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  1. Also in Chinatown: Buu Dien,642 N Broadway # 5 Los Angeles (back of the strip mall)

    But, go to the San Gabriel Valley on Valley Blvd. and you'll find so many places your head will spin. Lee's Sandwiches (in Alhambra and San Gabriel), Mr. Baguette (San Gabriel & Monterey Park), Bahn Mi Che Calle (San Gabriel), and lots of other mom and pop places. The three I mentioned make their own baguettes fresh on the premises.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Buu Dien is the one in the strip mall right behind Yum Cha, right?

      I went there this morning, got the house banh mi dac biet (#1), and was less than impressed. The ingredients were all there, but the flavor was...lacking.

      I usually enjoy banh mi from a place on the same side of the street, about two blocks North on Broadway. I have no idea what the name is, but it's tucked in amongst the kitsch emporiums.

      1. re: Bjartmarr

        Sorry to hear your disappointment. A Vietnamese friend turned me on to that place. Only go there if I'm in Chinatown looking for bahn mi. I think I know that other place you're talking about...something like Chinatown Deli?

    2. All over the San Gabriel Valley. Just cruise down Valley Blvd or even Garvey and you'll see plenty of places, especially when you get just a little east of Del Mar Ave. My favorite is Banh Mi Che Cali, which is at 8450 Valley Blvd. in Rosemead, at the front of the building that also houses one of my favorite, served off the cart, dim sum places - 888 Seafood.

      1 Reply
      1. re: estone888

        Here, here to Banh Mi Che Cali. If you're willing to go further south, there is Zon's Baguettes in Tustin as well.

      2. If you're not up for coming down here to Little Saigon, your best bet is along Valley Blvd., as others have said -- I second Banh Mi Che Cali.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          I completely agree with Ubergeek. Little Saigon is your best bet. The next best place would be Valley Blvd. in the SGV, especially for for Banh Mi Che Cali. I have some reviews of Banh Mi places in my collection of Vietnamese restaurant reviews:

        2. Check out where you can find a Lee's Sandwiches.

          9 Replies
            1. re: bvorono

              Hey bvorono,

              Just my personal opinion, but I don't understand the popularity of Lee's Sandwiches. Their bread is mushy / soft (I prefer my Vietnamese Sandwiches with the crisp / crunch), and their ingredients are not as fresh as great places like the mom & pop Banh Mi shops like Banh Mi Che Cali and other favorites in Little Saigon and SGV.

              1. re: exilekiss

                I beg to differ. We have been going to the Lee's branch in Little Saigon for years. The lines are never ending, their bread is freshest since it's baked in house (always crunchy, fresh and warm). We tried a mom n pop operation in Vegas area and it was so bad that swore I won't do it again. If the vegetables are too strong for your taste, you can have them wrap it aside. Great deals too on their baguettes.
                Of course to get it crunchiest, you'll need to eat the sandwiches as soon as possible. Since it's served warm, the steam from the freshly baked bread may have caused it to get soggy if left for a time.

                1. re: trvlcrzy

                  I'm with exilekiss -- while Lee's is not bad, and I do go there because it's convenient, it's my banh mi-eria of last resort. It's certainly not the best in Little Saigon. Other bakeries make their bread fresh and in-house, like Banh Mi Che Cali, Banh Mi Cho Cu and Tip Top Sandwiches, and their bread is better.

                  Just because someone makes their own bread doesn't mean it's good (viz. Subway sandwiches, which may be the worst bread in America) -- I find Lee's to be either mushy or too dry. Their fillings are also less flavourful -- their pate is totally insipid and in a blind taste test I don't think I would be able to distinguish between their pork-based cold cuts.

                  I think the lines are long because Lee's is, no contest, the shop most accessible to non-Vietnamese. Banh Mi Cho Cu is just plain dingy (but so tasty!) and Banh Mi Che Cali... well, they're just plain rude at the Banh Mi Che Cali in Little Saigon. The sandwiches are excellent, but it's a mob scene and nobody is going to spend any time explaining things to you, whereas Lee's has an actual QUEUE that people RESPECT. At Che Cali, he who gets to the front fastest orders soonest.

                  That said, if you like Lee's, more power to you -- as I said, it's the most convenient banh mi shop to my office, and when I don't have time to head further down Trask, I go there.

                  Incidentally, there are many Lee's Sandwiches shops in Little Saigon -- which particular one do you go to? The 24-hour one on Brookhurst and Hazard? The one closest to my office is on Harbor between Palm and Garden Grove Blvd.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Ok, while I do like Banh Mi Che Cali, I never had a soggy baguette at Lee's. Please do not compare it to Subway's. It's a far cry from that. And as you mentioned, Lee's more efficient--yes, may not be the best but the branch we go to has great bread. If you don't eat it right away, a few minutes in an oven toaster will do wonders. Also, we go to the 24 hr. one on Brookhurst. I have to admit too that the other Lee's we went to on Pioneer in Artesia is not as good as Brookhurst Lee's.

                    1. re: trvlcrzy

                      You've got very lucky, then. As it happens, I've never been to the 24-hour Lee's on Brookhurst, but I have been to ten or twelve other Lee's and as I said, either soggy or hard as a rock.

                      I didn't say Lee's bread was like Subway's -- don't put words in my mouth -- what you originally said was "their bread is freshest since it's baked in house", and I said that just because bread is baked in-house doesn't mean it's great bread. Subway restaurants bake their bread in-house and their bread is terrible.

                      Lee's bread -- by itself, without anything on it to make it soggy -- is just OK. It's not worth the price they charge for it ($1.50 a loaf when everywhere else in Little Saigon sells bread for $1 a loaf, and often cheaper at the end of the day). There are many better places to get bread -- my favourite at the moment of the Vietnamese bread bakers is actually Van's Bakery on Brookhurst, with a close second going to Tip Top Sandwiches.

                      It's worth mentioning, by the way, that my sandwiches from Banh Mi Cho Cu manage to survive the trip from Westminster to Orange a lot better than my sandwiches from Lee's, which is just down Garden Grove Blvd. Since I don't tend to eat in these places, just get it to go, and I don't want to eat crusty things in my nice clean car (HAHAHAHAHA), this is important to me.

                      Lee's does, though, have very good coconut-raisin pastries. Banh Mi Che Cali stopped selling theirs, though of course I can get che there (can't get that at Cho Cu or Lee's).

                    2. re: Das Ubergeek

                      What's the address for Banh Mi Che Cali and Bahn Mi Cho Cu?

                      1. re: ExtraCheesePlease

                        There are several Banh Mi Che Cali branches, and only one Banh Mi Cho Cu.

                        Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery
                        14520 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

                        Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery
                        8948 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                        Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery
                        13838 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                        Banh Mi & Che Cali
                        647 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                        Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery - duplicate
                        15551 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA

                        Banh Mi & Che Cali
                        8450 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

            2. How about Banh Mi My Tho-I thought that place was pretty good on Valley (of course!)

              4 Replies
              1. re: bigtums

                I think it's the best in the SGV. The no-cilantro trend hasn't seemed to affect them. They do tend to run out of bread pretty early tho.

                  1. re: liu

                    Sorry if I wasn't clear. Tho DOES put cilantro in most but not all of their sandwiches (very little in the Ga), while BMCC and others now omit it completely, even if requested. This all started a couple years ago in the SGV, but as far as I know, not in the OC. There's at least one thread on the topic. I, for one, consider it a necessary ingredient.

                    1. re: africanizedkiller

                      Thanks for your post, africanizedkiller!
                      For me, it's all about the cilantro, the crunchy veggies and the jalapeno...oh, AND the bread!