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Jan 2, 2009 09:48 PM


I'm a sentimental Bay Area Ex-Pat. living & working in smoggy Southern California. My latest foodie obsession has been finding the best BBQ Pork Banh Mi. To me that means authentic smoked/bbq flavor, no thick chunked -but thinly sliced lean pork, & plenty of it! Here there are some Vitenamese Enclaves that seem to have the best versions, but my Bay Area Parents want to experience the 'Banh Mi Bliss'. One day, on a visit, I enjoyed an amazing BBQ Pork Banh Mi at a Vietnamese Restaurant on Piedmont Ave. Where in San Francisco , Oakland, or Contra Costa County are more outstanding BBQ Bah Mi available? Thanks, JET

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  1. In terms of smoky flavor, I'm not sure I can help. Latte Express has a $4 version that has good charcoal flavor and they put on more meat than a usual 2.50 version. This might be the one you are looking for.

    See this apt description:

    Other than that, I like Baguette Express on Larkin or Cam Huong in Oakland Chinatown.

    I am assuming when you say "BBQ" you are meaning what many places call "grilled pork"? Places that have both "grilled" and BBQ will have a marinated, sliced pork that is then grilled on "grilled", while the "BBQ" will be pork that is a chinese 5-spiced pork roast that is sliced after cooking.

    Baguette Express and Cam Huong's grilled pork options seem to be more about the marinade flavor and not a strong charcoal flavor.

    In San Jose, I like Kim's Sandwiches- they call their "grilled" "charcoaled"

    Usual reminder: Baguette Express has crazy pictures on their menu that have NO relation to the sandwiches they serve. The banh mi are prepared like most would expect- pickled veggies, meat, mayo, cilantro, jalapeno- NOT lettuce, tomato and cheese.

    Cam Huong Cafe
    920 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

    Kim's Sandwiches
    1816 Tully Rd 182, San Jose, CA 95111

    Baguette Express
    668 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Latte Express
    48 5th St, San Francisco, CA

    9 Replies
    1. re: P. Punko

      Here is a pic of a Latte Express pork banh mi- you can see they have a lot of meat, so it is still good value for 4 dollars.

      1. re: P. Punko

        Any recs between Redwood City & Sunnyvale/Santa Clara? This is one item I have learned about since joining chowhound & keep meaning to try.

        1. re: ceekskat

          In Sunnyvale, try Cam Hung on Reed.

          Cam Hung Restaurant
          903 Reed Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

          1. re: DezzerSF

            Thanks, looking forward to trying it. Any other items to try here?

            Years ago when I first moved to the Bay Area, Vietnamese co-worker took me to hole in the wall located in Sunnyvale Town & Country (on Washington? opposite Macy's). I used to get a vermicelli noodle dish with bbq pork which I still remember fondly. Oh yeah, same co worker found some Chinese hitw off Central near Mathilda/Arques (?) & we used to get egg foo young. Sorry, memory is just not what it used to be.

            1. re: ceekskat

              Their banh cuon and spring rolls (shrimp or pork) are pretty good too. I usually one of those and a banh mi. Banh Beo is on the menu, but the one time I asked about it, they said they were out (sounded like they don't make it too often).

              One time I ordered Bun with grilled pork, which was okay, mostly because they used the same pork from the banh mi, which was thin and tepid. I like Bun with thicker slices of meat but all the other ingredients were fresh.

              Avoid Lee's on El Camino, bland pork and the julienned veggies didn't seem pickled.

              1. re: DezzerSF

                Sometimes places have thin pork chop as an option for a rice plate, but not so much for Bun. This sounds like what you like.

          2. re: ceekskat

            This is the giant black hole for Banh Mi. Pho Que Nguyen on El Camino just over the Sunnyvale border has them, but they aren't great. The problem is their grilled pork tastes too much like fuel- a little bit acrid. Their particular mayo sauce is also not as flavorful, but it is the closest I think in the area. I'm not aware of any places between Redwood City and Mountain View, which is surprising. I'm working on a google map of banh mi places and hopefully we can put them all on there.

            1. re: P. Punko

              I've had Pho at Pho Quyen 2 and wondered about their banh mi menu. I do remember them having an over easy egg banh mi that sounded enticing, after having the one at Ba Le in Oakland.

              1. re: DezzerSF

                You should give them a try- I've only had their grilled pork, and I suspect the issue is mostly limited to the pork (all their grilled pork tastes that way). We've had their Pho once and I liked it. They also do something that has deep fried chunks of noodle like the Pho Ap Chao at Thien Long- but they serve theirs with a dipping sauce and some grilled pork. It isn't "good" but it is satisfying.

                Oh, their nuoc cham dipping sauce is very good- it actually tastes a little fishy, and their spring rolls are almost entirely meat it seems- different but flavorful. I wish some things were better there, but we've always had good service and it is a relatively clean restaurant. Most people seem to order Pho, and they have some other soups too. I had something with crab paste that tasted good, but it was different than I expected.

                Thanks for reminding me of the actual name of the place.

                Pho Quyen 2 Noodle House
                1185 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

      2. For grilled pork banh mi, try Vietnam Restaurant on Broadway just west of Columbus. They grill pork to order for their banh mi. I'm not sure that's exactly what you're looking for, but the freshly grilled meat raises their pork banh mi to a different level.

        1 Reply
        1. re: david kaplan

          Is that the little almost lunch counter place- it kind of looks like Cordon Bleu on California?

        2. Any place to recommend in the San Mateo area?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kim Cooper


            There are some places in San Mateo- we're compiling all the Banh Mi places in the Bay Area in this thread:


            There is an accompanying Google Map.

          2. Thanks for the suggestions!! -JET