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Jul 28, 2008 01:41 PM

Munch - Banh mi on the Westside?

When a friend asked if I'd heard of the new Vietnamese sandwich place on Sawtelle my heart skipped a beat - I didn't dare hope - it sounded too good to be true!

Indeed. Munch is actually a little Thai deli with plastic clamshells of take-out Pad Thai and rice dishes and, as the aggressively friendly man said, "Vietnamese-style" sandwiches. Meaning I suppose short baguettes, cucumber spears and cilantro, some with marinated radish/carrots. We ordered three, a Vietnamese Combo which was remotely dac biet-like, but the flavors just seemed off. A Satay Chicken sandwich was bizarre - neither fish nor fowl, and the third, a Sesame Beef, was inedible.

Let's keep dreaming of a Che Cali West.

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  1. Here is a link to an earlier, brief thread on this place.

    We've been in a couple of times for shaved ice (Chinese style); it's OK, but nothing special. The food has not impressed us at all. Unfortunately it's not clear that this place makes any sense in this location . . . it would certainly be nice if it could be better, we could really really use a decent banh mi place on the westside.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PayOrPlay

      My guess is (I'm sure this has been said before) that Banh Mi profits are not commensurate with westside overhead.

      1. re: BIM

        Sawtelle Blvd. hasn't had much luck w/ VN food. I remember a Pho place where Chabuya is. I"ve also heard Pho Reign isn't very good.

        I think someone will come up with the Westside version of a Banh Mi and it will end up being priced around $6 or so. I would love for a Banh Mi Che Cali to open in Culver City, but I don't think that will happen. What about a Banh Mi truck like a taco truck?

        I run into the same problem with Pho. I recently tried Pho Show in CC and spent around $15 on Pho and an order of spring rolls. It was painful paying a couple of extra dollars for an inferior product.

        1. re: bsquared2

          They've tried. Remember East-West Sandwich in Westwood Village? That was about as close as banh mi ever got.

          No, your best bet for a banh mi shop on the Westside would be the return of the "buck-fitty" in the little shacks on Gayley... I remember those from my youth.

    2. I just tried this place today as I had been reading banh mi threads this weekend and just happened to drive by and see the sign for vietnamese sandwiches today. Funny that I actually missed this thread yesterday. I tried the Vietnamese Combo with a Vietnamese Iced Coffee, and I was happy with them. The bread was crusty and soft, lightly toasted and while it could have use more cilantro and radish/carrot mixture to make it less dry, I found it satisfying enough to ease the void left after East/West in the village closed. I feel like I've had better and I've had worse in terms of these sandwiches, but it's definitely the best I've found without having to drive downtown or to SG. I would go back.

      I was the only one in the shop today so the woman behind the counter, Bi, super gracious and friendly, came over to chat with me. She said they've been open for about 2 1/2 months and it's a family-run place. I'm guessing business has been a little slow starting out, because she asked me how I found this place, and that if I recommended it to friends, to tell them that if they try something and they don't like it, to tell them and they will improve. She asked me for my opinion about the items I'd tried, and wanted me to sample some other items and give her an opinion.

      While I agree that the concept and look of the place seem to lack focus and tries to be many things at once, it seems they are open to suggestions and are really focused on customer satisfaction. I wonder if it's like the saying, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with." I think we're in agreement that there isn't mind-blowing, authentic banh mi to be found on the westside, but I can live with the sandwiches at this place and maybe I'm too optimistic in hoping they will improve with time/experience. Who knows...maybe with the suggestions of devout foodies, we can get them to offer the quality of sandwich we're all craving. They do seem really open to it.

      I can't vouch for the take-out items, but i think this place is at least worth a try.

      1. There's something they put in the sandwiches that makes the bread horribly soggy. They're the only people in the westside to offer banh mi, but still... I don't like soggy sandwiches.

        1 Reply
        1. re: WBGuy

          soggy? i had a chicken satay sandwich which had tons of orgasmic peanut sauce and my bread was still fresh, crisp, and just right, even after eating it hours later. i've also tried the combo one with pate, ham, pork loaf, and that wasn't soggy either. maybe they put too much of the carrots/radish in yours? but i actually think that's what makes them taste so great.