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Nov 29, 2008 08:31 PM


We are tight on funds, it was my birthday, & my great artistic & foody-joy is to spend a weekend escaping smoggy So. Cal by going on an 'Ethnic Get-away'! This includes visiting a surrounding neighborhood of immigrants, & exploring their culture as much as possible by eating their authentic cuisine & perusing their neighborhoodfood/spice markets & stores.
I had my first two memorable Banh Mi in Berkeley & recently at a Vietnamese Restaurant on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. Yesterday, we trekked from the Valley to Westminster. We had our first Banh Mi of the afternoon at Che' Cali. The BBQ Pork edition was smoky, vinegary, spicey, sweet & poetry in the mouth! The "pate choux" meat in pastry was good, & we enjoyed the coldcut, cellophane noodle, cilantro & shrimp-stuffed vermicelli rolls dipped in the Nuoc Cham. We wondered what the ubiquitous food item we kept noticing stuffed in a
banana-leaf was? We marveled at all the weird-looking melons like Jackfruit & the hairy red ones that looked like Cling-Ons!!I had remembered seeing Ba Le mentioned in the book, "Counter Intelligence", so we tried their BBQ Pork Banh Mi, & it was a big let-down! A recent L.A. Times Article mentions Lily's Bakery. Has anyone tried their Bah Mi? I like the smokey meat to be sliced thin. When I had one in Chinatown recently, the meat was in thickish irregular chunks, & the sandwhich was unappealing. It's a long trek from the Valley. Why isn't some great guide like "Counter-Intelligence" updated?The Banh Mi mentioned in the Valley probably don't come close. So, who makes the BEST BBQ PORK BANH MI in Westminster?, in San Gabriel Valley?, & when needed, in the Valley? I just can't get that Gourmet Umami-Poetry out of my head & away from my tongue.....................JET

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  1. I don't even know the name but my friend turned me on to this small banh mi shop in Santa Ana that blows away Che Cali and Lee's and everything else. It's in a small mall on Euclid at the Edinger intersection. It's caddy corner from Mile Square Park and across the street from a gas station. It's a food to go place but my god, the banh mi are freaking incredible. The best part is that the bread lasts for several days even refrigerated. I got greedy the last time there and got 14 extra banh mi's to go and was going to give them to my co-workers the next day. I didn't and ate all of them myself over the span of 4 days. The fourth day was a dry but still incredibly delicious.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ExtraCheesePlease

      Wow, I'm impressed. Do you know if they have a veggie banh mi?

      1. re: choctastic

        I will let you know when I'm down there next weekend to visit my parents.

      2. re: ExtraCheesePlease

        Who, next time I'm in the Disneyland-Area, I know where I must go!!! Thanks!!, JET

      3. When you say "in the Valley" I assume you mean San Fernando Valley?? If so, check out the link below. I like Sandwich Express in Reseda, but keep in mind it's the only place I've been to for Banh Mi, so I can't compare it with anything else.

        9 Replies
        1. re: brandygirl

          Hi, brandygirl!
          We love Sandwich Express in Reseda on Sherman Way! We have enjoyed various banh mi orders there about a dozen times, and everything is delicious; their bread is exceptional and I like the narrow shape. Also, the owner is very friendly and always acknowledges us. They offer some interesting soft yogurt flavors as well, like taro.

          Perhaps the best banh mi we have had was in Westminster at Banh Mi Cho Cu:

          It offered the perfect ratio of ingredients on really good bread, but it is too far for us to be regular customers there.

          Not all banh mi creations are alike, and each place seems to have its own style. For me, the bread, the jalapenos and the cilantro are the key ingredients while others have different preferences. I just don't think there is one banh mi out there that is the clear best for all!

          1. re: liu

            You are so right about the service at Sandwich Express. The last time I was there, they were not too busy and (I guess it was the owner) offered me tastes and recommended dishes that I had never known about. You're also right about their bread--always fresh and delicious.

            1. re: brandygirl

              What do you like to order at Sandwich Express? I tried it for the first time yesterday (it was also my first banh mi, ever) and really liked the bbq pork. What else should I try? Thanks in advance.

              1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                It's been a while since I've been--I'm due for another visit!. I like their meatball sandwich. I'm not a fan of pate, but other people I know like it and say it's very mild at Sandwich Express.

                1. re: brandygirl

                  I agree that the pate is very mild; that is what I had the last time I was there. The BBQ pork seems to be one of their best sellers. While we were there, I saw the egg sandwich being put together. The egg was freshly made and it looked really good.

                  1. re: brandygirl

                    Thank you. I'll give the meatball and pate a try.

                2. re: brandygirl

                  brandygirl, I am so glad that your visit there was positive. What you experienced with the owner...well, that's just the way he is!
                  Did you taste the taro yogurt?

                  1. re: liu

                    No, I haven't had the taro yogurt, but I'll try to get there this week and try it plus the BBQ pork sandwich. Thanks for the rec.!

                    1. re: brandygirl

                      Oh, please let me know about your trip!

            2. Thanks for the report. I really liked the flavor of the pork at Che Cali as well. But, I was a little disappointed by the meat to bread ratio in their sandwiches. And I know I shouldn't complain because of how cheap they are.

              But, I used to live a few blocks from Saigon Sandwiches in San Francisco and for the same prices, their sandwiches were stuffed with meat.

              Maybe I was spoiled by Saigon (Travel and Leisure did name their banh mi one of the 10 best sandwiches in the US), but I haven't found an equivalent here in LA yet.

              I would love some suggestions from other Chowhounds as to their favorites in and around LA.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Hobsons Choice

                Hi Hobsen, Since intiating this particular Ban Mi Link, I had a friend pick up a couple of Bah Mi's when they were in Santa Ana at the above place suggested. Honestly, they were okay, but not sensational. Then I was brought more!; A Vietnamese parent of one of my 2nd grade students, laughed when I asked her about THE best Banh Mi. That weekend, she got me a BBQ'd Pork from Lilli Bakery, & one from another place she favored. We'll maybe I wasn't thrilled because I tasted them cold, but I inspected the meat in both, & both were full of fat, not lean meat! This really turned me off. I realized that preference is very individualized, but I am hoping for one where the meat is LEAN, & it is sliced thinley in a BBQ'd pork Banh Mi. Any others fitting this discription?!