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[DFW] Best Vietnamese Sandwich - Banh Mi [DFW]

LewisvilleHounder Apr 30, 2009 12:36 PM

We all need a good sandwich in these hard times. Since the economy is not so good, the chains are rolling out cheaper less tasty sandwiches faster than ever, and people do not want to drive terribly far these days. We have had the top sandwich in DFW before just focusing on one dish that is found at most Vietnamese restaurants, bahn mi.

What is your favorite banh mi haunt, where is it located, and what do you like about it (i.e. the bread lacerates your mouth, the bread is flaky on the outside but moist inside, the pate is seasoned just right and not too irony from the liver, the veggies are pickled just right, etc.). We need a concise list, once we get that then we can all compare notes on the top two or three to get a winner of bahn mi in the metroplex.

Again focus only on banh mi in the metroplex no other Vietnamese dishes.

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  1. LewisvilleHounder RE: LewisvilleHounder Apr 30, 2009 12:48 PM

    Paté Banh Mi

    La Me
    9780 Walnut St
    Suite 140
    Dallas, Texas 75243
    972-669-8515
    8:00 am - 8:00 pm Wednesday - Monday, Closed Tuesday
    http://www.la-me.net/

    I will start of saying that the paté banh mi at La Me is my favorite by a long shot. The bread is nice and flaky and on some occasions lacerating (I think it comes from the Hong Kong Supermarket or one of the vendors inside). The paté is mildly flavored and combined with the butter and mayo is downright wrong in the health standpoint. The veggies are nice and crisp. They are pickled just right not too sweet and not too sour. The bread, pate and butter are all toasted making a nice warm delicious sandwich. I have had better bread elsewhere but the fillings just didn't measure up.

    5 Replies
    1. re: LewisvilleHounder
      a
      al427 RE: LewisvilleHounder May 1, 2009 09:00 AM

      LewisvilleHounder,

      What do you usually order at La Me? I tried it a few months ago after reading about it on this site and I was not very impressed. I ordered banh mi thit nuong and the pork had a very strong flavor to it. I think it was five spice powder. It also tasted a little old. The lady making my sandwich took the meat out of the refrigerator and microwaved it. I would like to try La Me again and order something different this time.

      Thanks!

      1. re: al427
        o
        OCNC RE: al427 May 1, 2009 06:28 PM

        They changed chefs some time ago and have taken a turn for the worse.

        1. re: al427
          LewisvilleHounder RE: al427 May 1, 2009 08:37 PM

          al,

          It was five spice powder and really there isn't that much. I would suspect you aren't a fan of the star anise in the five spice powder as it gives off the licorice flavor.

          When I go to La Me I order the pate. I ordered the thit nuong the last time I went and wasn't impressed. I don't really like the head cheese or the pork roll, I just like the pate, plain and simple.

          1. re: LewisvilleHounder
            a
            al427 RE: LewisvilleHounder May 3, 2009 02:23 PM

            I actually don't mind five spice powder or star anise, but that's all I could taste on my sandwich that day. I guess I like my thit nuong different than how they prepare it or it was just a bad day.

            Thanks for the suggestion!

        2. re: LewisvilleHounder
          j
          jindomommy RE: LewisvilleHounder May 13, 2009 11:19 PM

          I really, really love La Me. I rarely make it out that way, but when I do, I always go there. I love their coconut tapioca and usually buy ten of them to store in the fridge. I also love their flan. I've probably eaten one of everything on the menu and it has all been really good. My mom used to own a Vietnamese restaurant and so, I tend to be pretty picky about my Asian food. La Me and Zander's taste exactly like the stuff I had growing up. Zander's is much more high end and La Me is solid everyday fare. However, the desserts are as good as I've had anywhere stateside.

        3. teegee RE: LewisvilleHounder Apr 30, 2009 12:50 PM

          oh, i had one out in arlington that i liked a lot but i didn't write down the name of the place. i've gone back and tried to find it, and couldn't figure out where it was. and now of course i'm kicking myself.

          i can't wait to see what places are suggested! (to tell you the truth, i've been thinking about doing exactly this kind of roundup myself. great idea!)

          1. c
            CocoaNut RE: LewisvilleHounder Apr 30, 2009 01:09 PM

            Not intending to be snarky by any stretch, but is there some new foodie definition of the word "lacerate"? I've always understood this word to mean: tear, cut, rip, etc....... Just curious?

            2 Replies
            1. re: CocoaNut
              LewisvilleHounder RE: CocoaNut Apr 30, 2009 02:06 PM

              Cocoanut,

              I mean just that lacerate your mouth.....the end of the banh mi (bread) can actually rough up the top of your mouth much like a good baguette can, and we are not talking those baguettes from Kroger or Albertsons. Some people look for that quality in their bread. I am about in the middle ground though...some days I do like it others I don't. For more information about the Vietnamese Baguette I would suggest the following:

              http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/b...

              A wiki guide to Banh Mi sandwiches-not the best:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A1n...

              Other resources:
              http://battleofthebanhmi.com/
              http://www.noodlepie.com/2004/05/stre...
              http://www.noodlepie.com/street_sandw...

              Lee's Sandwich chain from San Jose, CA is the McDonald's of the banh mi world. The menu is lengthy so you can see what all different varities there can be.
              http://leesandwiches.com/2008/main.ph...

              1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                c
                CocoaNut RE: LewisvilleHounder Apr 30, 2009 03:32 PM

                WOW! Thanks for your response, but I must say, I would never go in search of, nor give credance to, any food type/product that lacerates my mouth, at least not in the literal sense. But I do understand what you're talking about. For me, I'd just need to find a more palatable descriptor; one that does not conjure up images of bleeding.

            2. s
              snatex RE: LewisvilleHounder May 1, 2009 06:47 AM

              Here are some of the ones I have tried and my recollections. I always get the bánh mì thịt nướng (grilled pork).

              Saigon Cali Hot Bakery‎
              1700 E Pioneer Pkwy, Arlington, TX‎ - (817) 795-9733‎

              Great fresh bread. I didn't think I was going to like the taste of the meat based on the odd bright pinkish color, but I was wrong. It was delicious. Higher meat to veggie ratio than most banh mi's i've had. I think I would have liked more veggies. Had a nice tangy spread that gave the sandwich some good heat.

              Bale Restaurant‎
              2240 Browning Dr, Arlington, TX‎ - (817) 274-0381‎

              Great fresh bread. Average meat. Excellent veggies. Lots of Jalepeno's - hot.

              Pho 95‎
              2525 E Arkansas Ln # 223, Arlington, TX‎ - (817) 543-2295‎

              Average all the way around. Nothing memorable.

              Ba Le Restaurant & Bakery‎
              3526 W Walnut St, Garland, TX‎ - (972) 276-6665‎

              Unedible. Tasted like soap or something nasty.

              Ba Lee Sandwich Shop‎
              1927 E Belt Line Rd # 125, Carrollton, TX‎ -

              Was hyped up to try based on several reviews I read but was unimpressed. I don't remember much about it except the fact that I was disappointed.

              2 Replies
              1. re: snatex
                l
                luniz RE: snatex May 1, 2009 09:44 AM

                was the "soap" taste in your banh mi from ba le from cilantro?

                1. re: luniz
                  s
                  snatex RE: luniz May 1, 2009 01:52 PM

                  I don't think so. I think it was the pork that tasted off.

              2. o
                OCNC RE: LewisvilleHounder May 1, 2009 06:35 PM

                Quoc Bao amd Saigon Cali. Contest is over, thank you for playing.

                6 Replies
                1. re: OCNC
                  DallasDude RE: OCNC May 2, 2009 02:37 AM

                  bwahaha ty for calling the shots, ocnc. we will all go en masse. well, i will.

                  1. re: OCNC
                    air RE: OCNC May 2, 2009 09:21 AM

                    I've also heard that Quoc Bao is good but never gave it the time of day since every comparison I've ever heard about Quoc Bao compares their banh mi to Ba Le and it doesn't take much effort to top Ba Le. I stopped going there since finding out about La Me in the last discussion of what is the best banh mi in town:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/428669

                    So my question to you: What makes Quoc Bao stand out over La Me? I'm on the same boat as LH - La Me is my favorite due to their fillings. Is Quoc Bao's bread that much better?

                    1. re: air
                      o
                      OCNC RE: air May 2, 2009 01:47 PM

                      Waaay better, air. Try it, you just might like it!

                      1. re: air
                        kuidaore RE: air May 5, 2009 09:29 PM

                        Air, are you talking about Ba Le in Garland or Bale in Arlington? I think people were talking about the one in Arlington in the old thread. (We didn't like their food, including banh mi, at all.)

                        We love Ba Le's (Garland) banh mi--I can eat it every day (We've been eating it twice a week lately). We like that chewy, gummy bread--whenever we are there, a stream of people come and grab a bag of their bread and they sell out quick.

                        We know someone who likes Quoc Bao's, but we find their bread too soft (we didn't like their fillings, either). He finds Ba Le's bread too chewy. (Of course, he only has half his teeth!) Guess different strokes for different folks.

                        I was never impressed with La Me's banh mi. (I don't like pate so #1 doesn't do it for me. I like shredded chicken best at La Me.) Since we discovered Nam Hua and Ba Le, we haven't been to La Me.

                        1. re: kuidaore
                          air RE: kuidaore May 6, 2009 05:32 AM

                          Definitely not the one in Arlington, there's no way I'd drive that far unless it was for gourmet banh mi, haha. I'm talking about Ba Le in Garland, it was the first recommendation I got for banh mi when I had first moved up here.

                          Back then, I hardly ever found myself around the particular intersection with HK Market until Bistro B opened. I had always noticed La Me real closeby to Bistro, but was skeptical until I read your post mentioning the owner of Zander's House vouching for the banh mi.

                          I do like pate, so looks like there's something we've got opposing tastes on!

                      2. re: OCNC
                        s
                        snatex RE: OCNC May 2, 2009 03:35 PM

                        I tried Quoc Bao. Excellent sandwich. Very good bread. Very good fillers. Only bummer was that the bread nor the grilled pork were warm.

                      3. g
                        gavlist RE: LewisvilleHounder May 2, 2009 01:11 PM

                        La Me, #1 Buu Dien for me.

                        Incidentally, I heard a rumor (a friend of a friend talking to staff at La Me) that they were changing management soon. Can anyone confirm?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: gavlist
                          Webra1 RE: gavlist May 2, 2009 01:47 PM

                          We went to La Me a few weeks ago and had the #1 Buu Dien which is pate with a variety of sliced Vietnamese-type cold cuts. We didn't notice any real difference except maybe it seemed a slightly bit smaller. They do add five spice powder to it, but I guess I like that. Just curious - is that unusual?

                          However - they've stopped making our favorite dessert which was the best in town that we've had - Bánh Bò Nướng ( http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y218... )

                          When asked about it, they said they don't make it anymore and suggested we try a green colored rice dish instead. Whatever it was, it wasn't sweet and tasted like fermented dirt.

                          A Vietnamese friend of ours likes Quoc Bao. We've had their version of LaMe's #1, and it tasted very similar to us but my husband prefers the types of cold cuts used at LaMe.

                          The other dish we've really liked at LaMe is their Bun Cha Hanoi (grilled pork patties with siced grilled pork).

                          1. re: Webra1
                            LewisvilleHounder RE: Webra1 May 2, 2009 06:09 PM

                            I also noticed that the Bánh Bò Nướng is now gone. They had a orange sticky rice dish that was flavored with coconut and fruit that was actually pretty good, no where near the banh bo but still good.

                            1. re: Webra1
                              Webra1 RE: Webra1 May 3, 2009 10:35 AM

                              We went by today and found out they will be closed starting tomorrow until May 15. They will have a Grand Opening after that. The chef is the same, but new management and new menu items.

                              My mother-in-law thought the pork patties in the Bun Cha Hanoi were spicier than usual, but other than that, everything tasted the same to us.

                          2. s
                            snatex RE: LewisvilleHounder May 11, 2009 09:43 AM

                            Good article in NY Times on Banh Mi

                            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/din...

                            Good website on Pho

                            http://www.phofever.com/

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: snatex
                              LewisvilleHounder RE: snatex May 11, 2009 01:16 PM

                              snatex,

                              Good tips lately especially on the Arlington front. I will be making several runs out there soon for Cali Saigon Bakery, Mi Tierra, Potager (again 3rd trip), Jamaica Gates, and Pho Hung.

                              Another website you might find interesitng is Noodlepie blogging from Saigon.

                              http://www.noodlepie.com/

                            2. s
                              snatex RE: LewisvilleHounder May 16, 2009 04:46 PM

                              I had La Me today. I shared one pate and one grilled pork banh mi. Both we're awesome. Probably the best I have had in anywhere in town. La Me does have new owners though. The grand re-opening was this weekend. Bun Cha Hanoi was not on the new extensive menu but they made it for me anyway. The Pho was better today than I remember it. I also asked for the coconut tapioca that someone mentioned this week but they didn't even know what that was. I think the quality of the food will be as good or better with the new owners. The new menu has a lot of interesting things on it that I hope to try. Maybe some of you guys can report on these too.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: snatex
                                j
                                jindomommy RE: snatex May 16, 2009 05:25 PM

                                No coconut tapioca? That was one of the few places that made it in the DFW. How do they not know what it is? Maybe it's a regional specialty. I don't know... Not too happy at the thought of new ownership. I'll have to check it out. Thanks Snatex.

                                1. re: snatex
                                  l
                                  luniz RE: snatex May 18, 2009 08:17 AM

                                  I hope they don't take bun bo hue off the menu... :(

                                  1. re: luniz
                                    LewisvilleHounder RE: luniz May 18, 2009 09:35 AM

                                    They have not taken it off the new menu. I went on the 16th and it still needs some tables moved around but the menu was printed up and the new owner was there.

                                2. air RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 15, 2010 12:25 PM

                                  Carrollton now has a noteworthy banh mi shop. Quoc Bao (same as the one in Garland) opened a location on Belt Line and Josey right next to Casa Vieja. There's no contest, they're easily the best banh mi around this area.

                                  Quoc Bao's bread is interesting enough to quickly satiate a banh mi craving though the fillings can't be compared to La Me. The qualities of the bread at Quoc Bao remain consistent: very soft and fluffy with zero laceration and minimal crisp. The place always smells like warm fresh bread. Veggies are fresh and crispy but a little on the sweet side. They do have a decent banh mi thit nuong (#10, grilled pork) but be sure you have a toaster oven handy as it doesn't always come out warm. I also like their banh mi bi cha, #5 on the menu. Bi is thinly sliced pork skin, cha is pork cold cut, and there's a little pate too.

                                  Reference for fillings:
                                  http://battleofthebanhmi.com/fillings...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: air
                                    LewisvilleHounder RE: air Mar 16, 2010 10:29 AM

                                    Air,

                                    Thanks for the reply. Went by Quoc Bao last night. They are just waiting on cutomers to come in. The bread was very good but the filling tanked the overall sandwich. It was one of the worst attempts at Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork) I have had. The worst was in OKC and we just won't get into that. If they took time to say actually grill the pork on a wood fired/charcoal grill out back it would make the sandwich all the better. La Me gets that grilled pork flavor into theirs but is a bit heavy on the five spice for my liking. I like it but I just need the carmel sauce on the pork over some flames to be perfect. I understand that is probably how they grew up making them though....no fault of theirs.

                                    I told my wife next time we are at La Me to get a container of pate and the bread from Quoc Bao to make our own bahn mi.

                                    I did not see any pate on the menu as that is really what I wanted. Quoc Bao seems to be heavy on the meat balls though. I will agree that the veggie were on the sweet side and the shredded carrot and daikon radish were soaked in the marinade to long making them limp and not so crunchy. I will have to give the cold cut a shot next time though. I have had several bad versions of Banh Mi Bi to ruin my need for them.

                                    Quoc Bao is a significant change to the neighborhood and it is welcomed. Hopefully the bahn mi quality will only increase now!

                                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                                      air RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 16, 2010 12:14 PM

                                      One time I happened to be at a certain banh mi chain in Houston, back when they were still exciting and "new" to the area. I saw someone ahead of me in line order some banh mi thit nuong, and the sandwich maker put the grilled pork into a microwave. Although I stuck with the cold cuts, they tasted bland and the tough bread ripped my mouth apart, it was like chomping on a hedgehog. Needless to say, that was my first and last experience with that shop.

                                      >>I told my wife next time we are at La Me to get a container of pate and the bread from Quoc Bao to make our own bahn mi.

                                      Yeah, 4 rolls for a dollar is quite a deal, that'd be a winning combination if the price is right for the pate. Quoc Bao does not have a pate sandwich like La Me but the #5 will definitely have some on it.

                                      1. re: air
                                        DallasDude RE: air Mar 16, 2010 05:23 PM

                                        I like La Me's roll. Since the new owners it has always had that wonderful crunchy/ soft/ hedgehof affect that I enjoy. The little girl working weekends said they buy it from a small bakery in Arlington. And I think we determined on that same trip that the pate was indeed a pork based pate.

                                        I could easily see buying the pate and making my own, but I enjoy the trip, the people and the pho at La Me.

                                  2. DallasDude RE: LewisvilleHounder Apr 22, 2010 01:57 PM

                                    Found this banh mi diddy on Margies blog (Eating in Dallas), pretty funny:

                                    http://bruleeblog.wordpress.com/2010/...

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