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Best Banh Mi

r
Rick Sep 14, 2009 12:48 PM

Found a thread from two years ago, but figured I'd be better off getting updated info. So where are your favorite places for Banh Mi?

  1. MC Slim JB Sep 14, 2009 12:56 PM

    Allston: Pho Viet (fave overall)
    Chinatown: Mei Sum Bakery, Mike's Banh Mi
    Dot: King Do Baguette

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    45 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      davis_sq_pro Sep 15, 2010 09:52 AM

      I am obviously directionally-challenged. I went to Chinatown today to look for Mei Sum and failed miserably...

      40 Beach St, right? As far as I can tell that's a parking lot, but there aren't many numbers on the various doors to clue me in. I walked back and forth and was unable to crack the code.

      Can someone please explain in utterly simple terms exactly where Mei Sum is?

      On a more positive note, I ended up trying a new place (at least according to the "grand opening" sign -- no clue how long that's been there), Sub City. I tried one sandwich with BBQ beef and a second with Chinese pork, the second being the better of the two. (The beef was a bit stringy, and had a slightly muted flavor.)

      Both sandwiches were filled with a very generous portion of radish, carrot, cucumber, some cilantro, some onion, and some jalapeno. And the bread was, in my opinion, on the better end of the spectrum: crispy exterior, soft and not too airy interior. Neither sandwich, unfortunately, included a squirt of fish sauce, which would have launched them from "very good" to "great."

      1. re: davis_sq_pro
        t
        Taralli Sep 15, 2010 10:00 AM

        It's at 36 Beach St. w/a bright red awning on your right if you're facing Washington St.

        -----
        Beach St Cafe
        35 Beach St, Manchester, MA 01944

        1. re: davis_sq_pro
          MC Slim JB Sep 15, 2010 10:05 AM

          Despite all the online info (like an incorrect Google listing and Google Maps location), Mei Sum is more accurately at about 18 or 20 Beach Street, across the street from Pho Hoa II (at 17 Beach), near the intersection of Knapp and Beach.

          It sounds like Sub City is in the former home of Mike's Banh Mi. It is in what looks like the first floor of a new condo building, an open space with a bunch of other little retailers in it?

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          1. re: MC Slim JB
            davis_sq_pro Sep 15, 2010 10:15 AM

            Thanks for the Mei Sum correction. Will venture back shortly...

            Sub City is in a cramped first floor space with a sushi place and perhaps some other retailers in the back. It's on Beach St directly across Harrison from the aforementioned parking garage (#42), right across from the place labeled only Coffee House.

            1. re: MC Slim JB
              t
              tysonmcneely Sep 15, 2010 12:00 PM

              Davis Sq Pro, look up! There is a sign above that says Mei Sum right next to the parking garage. Don't feel bad, i have missed the sign as well. Like McSlim says, approximately across from the Pho Hoa. It's a bakery with a lot of old Asian men in it.

              McSlim, Sub City is literally right next to where Mike's banh mi was. In the same room, just the stall over. Not bad, bread very similar to 163 and new saigon, which I find to be a little too air/crunchy on the outside. Davis sq pro is right, they should definitely start adding some fish sauce (I might have tasted some in my cold cut, but not in the others yet. However, I am a big fan of their pickled vegetables and the rest of their veg was pretty good too. Definitely worth a shot.

            2. re: davis_sq_pro
              davis_sq_pro Sep 20, 2010 10:53 AM

              Back to Chinatown today for round 2: Mei Sum. Turns out I was only steps away last time.

              Tried the beef and -- based on a recommendation from someone here -- tofu, extra spicy.

              Impressions and comparisons vs my visit to Sub City:

              - The bread, far superior to Sub City's, both in flavor and texture. Perfect, really.
              - The beef, much more tender, but perhaps not quite as flavorful as Sub City's.
              - The vegetable toppings, very good, not quite as generous as Sub City. Doused with fish sauce, which made the entirety of each sandwich sing.
              - The spicy factor: excellent. Small, hot red chiles were used at Mei Sum, vs the larger slices of green chile used by Sub City. Much hotter, and easier to eat in sandwich form.
              - The tofu? Well, it certainly tasted like tofu, but that's about it. I was hoping for something marinated or otherwise flavored. It wasn't bad--I like the flavor of tofu--but after the beef it wasn't very good either.

              All in all, definite preference to Mei Sum's beef. But I'll be returning to Sub City to sample some of the other offerings, e.g. fried pork cake and head cheese, which Mei Sum doesn't offer.

              -----
              Mei Sum Bakery Coffee Shop
              40 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

              1. re: davis_sq_pro
                t
                tysonmcneely Sep 20, 2010 12:21 PM

                Davis sq,
                Mei sum does have head cheese, if you order the cold cut, some of it is head cheese. Same goes for Sub City, their coldcut is ham and head cheese, but they allow you to order ham only or head cheese only. In either case, I would suggest getting the cold cut.

                I had the fried pork cake at Sub city, it wasn't very good, it was more akin to a cold cut, but not as flavorful. It was cold, and cut into slices which is what made it similar. Please don't let me deter you from trying it, but that's just my 2 cents. Still looking forward to trying their Shredded pork and their tofu.

                1. re: davis_sq_pro
                  MC Slim JB Sep 20, 2010 01:13 PM

                  Also, you may not know it unless you're nosy like I am and peer over the counter, but Sub City offers two kinds of chilies: long thin slices of fresh jalapeño, and a kind of lightly pickled relish of fresh bird chilies (red and green crosswise slices) that is rather hotter.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    tatsu Sep 20, 2010 09:51 PM

                    The pickled birds eye chili are essential in my book. it's not the heat, it's the flavor. The pickled does tone them down quite a bit. I'm used to seeing only green ones, like at Banh Mi Ba Le and the first banh mi shop in Chinatown, inside the old supermarket by the jewelry store, who's names I can never recall.

                    -----
                    Banh Mi Ba Le
                    1052 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125

                    1. re: tatsu
                      StriperGuy Sep 21, 2010 01:14 AM

                      I prefer them unpickeled a la Mei Sum. Also Pho Viet in Allston has GREAT bread.

                      -----
                      Pho Viet
                      1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        Jolyon Helterman Sep 21, 2010 01:21 AM

                        Pho Viet (my favorite bahn mi by a long stretch) gets their bread from some Vietnamese bakery in Fields Corner, says the owner.

                        -----
                        Pho Viet
                        1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                        1. re: Jolyon Helterman
                          lipoff Sep 21, 2010 05:55 AM

                          Bobalicious in Newton also gets their excellent bread from a Vietnamese Bakery in Field's Corner. I like Pho Viet a lot, Banh Mi Ba Le Cafe (closer to Savin Hill than to Field's Corner) and Bobalicious.

                          -----
                          Banh Mi Ba Le
                          1052 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125

                          Bobalicious
                          308 Watertown St, Newton, MA 02458

                          Pho Viet
                          1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                          1. re: lipoff
                            l
                            LStaff Sep 21, 2010 12:52 PM

                            >Bobalicious in Newton also gets their excellent bread from a Vietnamese Bakery in Field's Corner.

                            ....and then toast it in a toaster oven until its hard and chewey which tears up the insides of your mouth when you eat it. But even though they are also somewhat pricey and take some time to make a simple sandwich, we have nothing else out in the burbs, so I guess I'll keep going until something else comes around.

                            1. re: LStaff
                              lipoff Sep 22, 2010 08:48 AM

                              I like the Bobalicious Banh Mi a lot though. I'm assuming that there's been a change in ownership though, because I haven't seen the original owners working there for a long time. But they people who currently work there seem to make the food and drinks exactly the same way, just *incredibly* slowly.

                              -----
                              Bobalicious
                              308 Watertown St, Newton, MA 02458

                              1. re: lipoff
                                Science Chick Sep 22, 2010 10:34 AM

                                I thought that they closed sometime earlier this year? Maybe there is new ownership.....do they still have the vegetarian sandwich?

                                1. re: Science Chick
                                  lipoff Sep 22, 2010 11:03 AM

                                  Definitely open last time I went there, which was maybe just a couple weeks ago? Not sure about the vegetarian sandwich, which I admit I've never had. I love their BBQ Beef Banh Mi. It could be just that the owners now hire staff, but I'm pretty positive that it's new ownership. Again, food and drink quality is exactly the same, as near as I can tell, just that they are very slow. My new strategy . . . order, walk diagonally across the street to Antione's Pastry Shop, buy almond macroons and chat with the friendly owner for ten minutes (the late Antione's younger brother, I believe) and then come back to collect my bubble tea and sandwich. =)

                                  1. re: lipoff
                                    s
                                    sdwr98 Sep 24, 2010 10:29 AM

                                    I can confirm the slowness. I went there today to have my first-ever banh mi, and it was definitely not a speedy process. However, the results were tasty. I had the BBQ Pork and very much enjoyed it. The bread was crispy but not to the point where it hurts your mouth, the meat was very flavorful, and the veggies were fresh and tasty. The spring rolls, however, were not anything special. The wrappers were a little tough and they didn't have a lot of taste to them.

                  2. re: davis_sq_pro
                    kobuta Sep 20, 2010 06:04 PM

                    I'm still waiting for other bahn mi vendors to pick up on Mei Sum's bread. I love it and is one of the key reasons why I prefer Mei Sum's bahn mi over that of most other vendors. It's got good texture and crust, without being TOO crusty. One of my least favorite things about bahn mi is having the crust cut into the roof of my mouth with every bite. :(

                    1. re: kobuta
                      MC Slim JB Sep 20, 2010 06:26 PM

                      Perhaps as a bakery, Mei Sum bakes their own bread?

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        g
                        glenn mcdonald Sep 20, 2010 07:22 PM

                        Speaking of peering over the counter, the last time I was at Mei Sum I spotted their bread (which I agree is instrumental in their superiority) in bags: Quinzani's.

                        1. re: glenn mcdonald
                          StriperGuy Sep 21, 2010 01:15 AM

                          Nice over the counter peering. Quinzani's who knew?

                          1. re: StriperGuy
                            MC Slim JB Sep 21, 2010 03:49 AM

                            Chowhounds: Violating Sandwich-Makers' Personal Space Since 1997. ™

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                              StriperGuy Sep 21, 2010 06:29 AM

                              We need a logo to go with the new tag line. Something along these lines:

                              http://img1.eyefetch.com/p/2u/535138-...

                    2. re: davis_sq_pro
                      galangatron Sep 23, 2010 03:46 PM

                      i didn't care for the banh mi at sub city. the beef wasn't flavorful enough, the bread was a little tough, and there weren't enough toppings. i like the banh mi at pho viet in allston and ba le bakery and king do baguette on dot ave in dorchester

                      1. re: galangatron
                        MC Slim JB Sep 23, 2010 06:14 PM

                        Alas, King Do is no more, and the sardine banh mi at Lee's Store & Bakery ain't quite the same. Pho Viet remains my favorite by a wide margin.

                        http://www.facebook.com/home.php

                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          galangatron Sep 23, 2010 06:46 PM

                          are you sure? i was there two weeks ago and business was booming

                          1. re: galangatron
                            MC Slim JB Sep 23, 2010 07:27 PM

                            Really? That's good news!

                            I wonder if King Do changed hands. I felt sure it was gone, recall seeing it padlocked and emptied at one point, maybe 6-8 months ago? I feel bad if I'm wrong, because I dropped it from my usual list of banh mi places I recommended, told many people that it was no more.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                            galangatron Sep 23, 2010 06:47 PM

                            you can also get a ca moi banh mi (sardine banh mi) at ba le in fields corner

                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                              tatsu Sep 23, 2010 07:05 PM

                              hmmm, i tried it on your suggestion, but i wasn't crazy about the bread. it's got to break into a million breadcrumbs as soon as you bite it, didn't have that. nice sig, tee hee!

                      2. re: MC Slim JB
                        MeffaBabe Sep 16, 2010 10:11 AM

                        I prefer 163 on Harrison Ave @ Beach St... next door to bank/cell phone shop. I think they are the best of all the Bahn Mi places in Chinatown and trust me when I say I have tried them all- I have worked in CT for almost 4 years! LOL!!!!

                        -----
                        Beach St Cafe
                        35 Beach St, Manchester, MA 01944

                        1. re: MeffaBabe
                          Eatin in Woostah Sep 19, 2010 08:26 AM

                          We went to 163 last weekend. The beef Bahn Mi was incredibly good. My 9 year old had the cold cut, which she loved. The pate spread was super tasty. And I prefer the extra crunchy baguettes there. Mmmm...may need to go back today.

                          1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                            nsenada Sep 19, 2010 12:51 PM

                            I really like 163 too - nobody else seems to, but I think their beef is superior to Mei Sum.

                            1. re: nsenada
                              jgg13 Sep 20, 2010 11:00 AM

                              I like 163 but I find that only about 1 in every 10 times do they actually put the chiles in there when I ask for it spicy (which is 10 out of 10 times)

                              1. re: jgg13
                                d
                                DoubleMan Sep 20, 2010 12:43 PM

                                That was my experience today. I asked for "very spicy" and there were zero chiles in there.

                                1. re: DoubleMan
                                  jgg13 Sep 20, 2010 12:52 PM

                                  I used to think it was just because I was a gringo, but I've gone there with other people who do get chiles in theirs. Maybe they just don't like the cut of my jib.

                                  1. re: jgg13
                                    MeffaBabe Sep 21, 2010 05:37 AM

                                    You have to tell her you want it spicy, spicy, spicy... before she wraps it ask if she put the spicy in it...

                                  2. re: DoubleMan
                                    C. Hamster Sep 21, 2010 09:56 AM

                                    But arent you watching them make it?

                                    1. re: C. Hamster
                                      jgg13 Sep 21, 2010 09:59 AM

                                      At 163 they tend to disappear behind a wall for a bit

                                  3. re: jgg13
                                    cheezsandwich Sep 27, 2010 02:01 PM

                                    I stopped asking for spicy because they go crazy with the chiles on mine. I may be getting yours. :)

                                    1. re: cheezsandwich
                                      jgg13 Sep 27, 2010 02:13 PM

                                      Hah, I knew they were going somewhere! :)

                                  4. re: nsenada
                                    k
                                    Kenji Nov 13, 2010 07:45 AM

                                    I like 163 too. The beef is indeed good. I also like their shredded pork, xiu mai (a crushed pork meatball which has to be eaten quickly or it will make the bread soggy) and chicken curry.

                              2. re: MC Slim JB
                                calisson Sep 24, 2010 07:13 PM

                                I had never had Banh Mi before tonight, but had read they were one of the world's best sandwiches (really! This was in The Economist, I think, and some of the others in that category were bagels and lox, and po boys).

                                After reading this thread, my husband and I headed to Dot Ave to try both King Do Baguette and Banh Mi Ba Le. We decided to buy sandwiches from both paces, as well as some other goodies, and do a "not so scientific" study.

                                The findings:

                                First of all, King Do now has another name (which I already forgot). There is a banner over where King Do must have been, but the words Baguette and Bakery are still there below the banner. Along with our shredded pork and pork skin sandwiches, we got some sweet and hot fish dish, and coconut "jello." We liked the sandwich fillings but found the bread hard, stale and uninteresting. The fish was really good, if mostly bones, and I really liked the coconut "jello." We also tried sticky rice with beans, and did not care for it.

                                Banh Mi Ba Le's bread was fresher, with a lovely crisp crust, and we both thought the sandwiches were moister and tastier. We also got a very nice noodle dish there (noodles stuffed with pork); the noodles look like things we've eaten at Dim Sum. We bought them without knowing what we were buying, because the woman at the counter couldn't tell us. I thought they might have been fish in aspic!

                                For us Ba Le was the clear winner for Banh Mi, but both places had interesting offerings, and we ended up spending about $20 for four huge sandwiches and several sides--a worthy experiment.

                                -----
                                Banh Mi Ba Le
                                1052 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125

                                1. re: calisson
                                  MC Slim JB Sep 24, 2010 07:29 PM

                                  I don't always look to The Economist for chow tips, but I'm right there with them on the banh mi thing!

                                  Curious to know more about the change of ownership at King Do: what's it called, who's involved, how has the mix changed since the handoff? King Do did 15 kinds of banh mi and otherwise covered a lot of ground -- groceries, pastries, cakes, pre-packaged bun bowls, banh xeo, on and on -- it's a huge space.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    a
                                    astrid Sep 27, 2010 09:48 AM

                                    King Do is now LA Baguette... has been for months now. Haven't been so I can't vouch for the quality.

                                    1. re: astrid
                                      c
                                      Chocomom Jan 14, 2011 04:17 PM

                                      Had a chance to finally try LA Baguette.

                                      While the bread is more like a french baguette (firmer and less mess) than the traditional banh mi baguettes (airy and full of shattering crumbs that you wear), I love love the pate they use.

                                      When we walked into the shop, still on the elusive hunt for something close to the now closed Hau Giang's subs that we loved soo much.. After perusing the menu, we went to order and low and behold, who is behind the counter but the lady from Hau Giang that used to make the subs. She still remembers how we like our subs-3 yrs later. We were so excited and gotten 2 subs and ate it right there and it was the same pate that we had been missing.

                                      All in all I can't wait to return and try the other kinds. My search has ended!

                              3. j
                                janzy Sep 14, 2009 02:11 PM

                                How about Ba-Le (sic) on Dorchester Ave next to the old St Williams Church.
                                King Do is right up there with all their foodstuff.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: janzy
                                  galleygirl Sep 15, 2009 07:16 PM

                                  Ba Le Bakery (the one you mentioned) is my #1 ultra- favorite. Esp. on weekends, when you can get vegetarian faux meat sandwiches. Ba La Cafe, in Fields Corner, is a VERY close #2, for the same reason, except they have faux meat all week. They both have THE best deli items, like fried rice cake cubes in egg (cafe) and pre-made banh xieo(bakery)...I make a pig out of myself with every visit to each. Always worth the ride. I don't think any of the other places, in Ctown, or Allston, hold a candle. Last time I was at the bakery one, they advertised the fish cake banh mi that i discovered in CA, but they were out. Anyone have it yet?
                                  Must try King Do if you and MC like it so much!

                                2. r
                                  Rick Sep 14, 2009 02:16 PM

                                  Thank you, not sure what part of the city we will be in around dinner time so it's nice to see there are so many options.

                                  1. lipoff Sep 14, 2009 02:35 PM

                                    I prefer Lu's Sandwich Shop among the offerings in Chinatown.

                                    And I like Bobalicious in Newton best overall.

                                    I agree that Pho Viet and King Do are very good too, but I stick by my choices.

                                    I almost always order a beef banh mi, so I can't speak to the quality of the pork, which might account for some of the differences of opinion. I wish I could line up banh mi from six different bakeries and try them side-by-side! =)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lipoff
                                      r
                                      Rick Sep 14, 2009 03:03 PM

                                      We're staying in Plymouth, so any suggestion south of Boston on the way home would work for us too. Ba Le and Kind Do are should be a quick stop off of 93 if we end up stopping on the way home.

                                    2. s
                                      sablemerle Sep 14, 2009 09:25 PM

                                      Anywhere outside the city (inner-ring suburbs, perhaps) where I could try a good Banh Mi. I'm in Arlington, and can only travel by "T" at the moment.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: sablemerle
                                        lipoff Sep 15, 2009 02:51 AM

                                        I think your best bet is to go to Pho Viet's in the Super 88 food court in Allston. You can take the 77 bus to Harvard Square and then the 66 bus to Harvard St and Brighton Ave, a short walk from Packard's Corner.

                                        1. re: sablemerle
                                          v
                                          Velda Mae Sep 15, 2009 03:54 PM

                                          Bobalicious on Watertown St. in Newton is just a short walk from Watertown Square.

                                          1. re: Velda Mae
                                            BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 15, 2009 11:59 PM

                                            I'm not sure I'd call it a SHORT walk, but it's a relatively pretty one.

                                            1. re: Velda Mae
                                              gansu girl Sep 16, 2009 03:53 AM

                                              Yes, it's about a mile, FYI.

                                              1. re: gansu girl
                                                h
                                                hyde Sep 16, 2009 06:56 AM

                                                the sandwich here is top three anywhere in the boston area, but slightly pricey (4.50), the boba tea is quite good, also. just be prepared, two bahn mi and two large teas is close to 19 dollars. the sisters could not be any nicer, which is a main reason i support this place. go, spend the extra buck, get your knives sharpened at stoddards up the street, visit the fly fishing store across from the old style hardware store, extrordinary sausages at depasquales across the street next to Antoine's, an old style italian bakery. if this neighborhood had a great pizza place (ala, stella's) i dont think i would ever leave it.

                                          2. l
                                            lizbomze Sep 15, 2009 06:17 PM

                                            Extra Spicy Tofu at Mei Sum. Incredible.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: lizbomze
                                              chickendhansak Sep 15, 2009 07:16 PM

                                              Just had that today! Agreed. We also shared a cold cut sandwich from Mike's; also excellent but the tofu edged it.

                                              1. re: chickendhansak
                                                Bob Dobalina Oct 9, 2009 07:37 AM

                                                Just had a Mike's Banh Mi and it blew Mei Sum away - lots more toppings, more meat, better overall flavor, the bread was perfect. At $2.75 a pop, it's my new #1.

                                            2. t
                                              the modern serf Sep 15, 2009 07:46 PM

                                              Are there any good banh mi places in cambridge or somerville?

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: the modern serf
                                                kobuta Sep 16, 2009 06:20 AM

                                                No in Cambridge/Somerville as far as I know. King Do used to deliver to Cambridge via foodler but they seemed to have nixed that experiment after only 2 weeks or so, and I am once again left banh mi -less for lunch. *wants to cry*

                                                1. re: kobuta
                                                  d
                                                  dsmoxie Sep 16, 2009 03:01 PM

                                                  Hi-Rise serves a "Saigon Sandwich" for something like $7, which is a banh mi minus the pate and with too much cilantro and too few jalapenos.

                                                  1. re: dsmoxie
                                                    w
                                                    windupbird Oct 2, 2009 09:45 AM

                                                    I just had the Saigon Sub at Hi Rise on Brattle. And it was fantastic. They use a house made terrine (so it is does include "pate"). They also make the pickles, bread and everything else in house. It is quite good. I've had many versions of banh mi and this is one of my favorites.

                                                2. re: the modern serf
                                                  m
                                                  marcreichman Sep 27, 2010 05:11 AM

                                                  I'd kill for something in Somerville, N. Cambridge, Arlington, Medford, even Watertown or Waltham. I'm in E. Arlington and it's sad how far I need to travel for one. Haven't made it to Bobalicious yet but that's still pretty far from me. I'd love something close!

                                                  -----
                                                  Bobalicious
                                                  308 Watertown St, Newton, MA 02458

                                                  1. re: marcreichman
                                                    j
                                                    joth68 Sep 27, 2010 08:42 AM

                                                    I second that!

                                                    1. re: joth68
                                                      d
                                                      djd Nov 11, 2010 09:54 PM

                                                      Motion carried.

                                                      1. re: djd
                                                        m
                                                        marcreichman Nov 12, 2010 05:14 AM

                                                        Well apparently we have a tofu one in teele square at the new True Bistro around lunch time. If I were ever there during lunch I could try it.. Anyone?

                                                3. m
                                                  mats77 Sep 15, 2010 10:08 AM

                                                  Pretty far afield but I had the banh mi at the Armsby Abbey in Worcester over the weekend and it was outstanding. Delicious beef brisket, pickled veg, fresh jalapenos on a fresh baked sub roll. All local ingredients and $12. Worth having if you are in the area.

                                                  -----
                                                  Armsby Abbey
                                                  144 Main Street, Worcester, MA

                                                  16 Replies
                                                  1. re: mats77
                                                    k
                                                    Kunegunde Sep 15, 2010 07:38 PM

                                                    In Lowell, I finally tried the Nhu Y Vietnamese Sandwich Shop. Really good, fresh and only $2.50. Smuggled it into a Spinners game.

                                                    -----
                                                    Nhu Y Vietnamese Sandwich Shop
                                                    707 Merrimack St, Lowell, MA 01854

                                                    1. re: mats77
                                                      Chrispy75 Sep 16, 2010 12:58 AM

                                                      Armsby Abbey is really charging $12 for a banh mi?!?!? Are you serious?!?!?

                                                      1. re: Chrispy75
                                                        m
                                                        mats77 Sep 16, 2010 05:13 AM

                                                        It's a sit-down restaurant not a takeaway stand in Chinatown. The price is appropriate for the type of restaurant it is.

                                                        1. re: mats77
                                                          Chrispy75 Sep 16, 2010 05:22 AM

                                                          I am familiar with the place. It's nothing more than a beer bar so calling it a sitdown restaurant is a bit of a stretch. And for $12 that banh mi better be 3 feet long!

                                                      2. re: mats77
                                                        StriperGuy Sep 16, 2010 06:31 AM

                                                        Brisket is kinda weird for a bahn mi. Might be good sandwich, but is it really a bahn mi? Have you ever had one elsewhere to compare?

                                                        1. re: StriperGuy
                                                          justbeingpolite Sep 16, 2010 06:48 AM

                                                          Anyone have any comparisons between Lowell and Boston Bahn Mi. I'm no expert but have enjoyed the bahn mi at Yummy express, and that grocery store on Merrimac ave (I think).

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                                            m
                                                            mats77 Sep 16, 2010 07:45 AM

                                                            Look I didn't mean to get the banh mi tradtionalists all hot and bothered. I had a more upscale version of a bahn mi and when I saw the thread I made a comment.

                                                            Chrispy, you are correct that AA is a beer bar; a very good beer bar with excellent food. When I called it a sitdown restaurant my point was that it is simply a more refined dining experience than most places that serve a bahn mi.

                                                            SG, to your point, my banh mi credentials are as follows: I have sampled the sandwiches in Dorchester and Allston and work a few blocks from Chinatown and eat them regularly for lunch. The sandwhich I had was not a traditional bahn mi but was good and noteworthy.

                                                            1. re: mats77
                                                              StriperGuy Sep 16, 2010 07:50 AM

                                                              Thanks, I just really wanted to know if you had had the genuine article to compare. After all chowhound is about the food ;-).

                                                              I am not on principle opposed to an upscale Bahn Mi.

                                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                Eatin in Woostah Sep 19, 2010 08:30 AM

                                                                The frustrating part of this post is there are several outstanding Vietnamese restaurants in Worcester with very reasonable prices, but I've never seen Bahn Mi on any of their menus.

                                                                1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                  MC Slim JB Sep 19, 2010 08:59 AM

                                                                  There are few full-service Vietnamese restaurants in Boston that serve banh mi: Pho Viet is one I can think of offf-hand. It's typically done from a standalone cart located somewhere else: in a bakery, a food court, a non-food retail outlet, a convenience store, on the street (only seen that in Vietnam, not here), or a storefront where banh mi is the main attraction.

                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Pho Viet
                                                                  1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                    Eatin in Woostah Sep 19, 2010 12:22 PM

                                                                    True - it's just too bad that no one in Worcester has opened a banh mi joint (as far as I know.)

                                                                    1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                      b
                                                                      bigboy Sep 26, 2010 04:26 AM

                                                                      Anh Thu on Main Street in Worcester is a banh mi joint, pretty good place.

                                                                      1. re: bigboy
                                                                        Eatin in Woostah Sep 26, 2010 07:47 AM

                                                                        Is it new? I moved away two years ago. I know of Anh Thu on Park that is a full serve restaurant, right down the street from Da Lat.

                                                              2. re: mats77
                                                                davis_sq_pro Sep 16, 2010 08:14 AM

                                                                A quick Google search indicates that brisket banh mi is hardly uncharted territory. And some of them look quite good. I might have to take a trip to Brooklyn to sample this one:

                                                                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/0...

                                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                                                  StriperGuy Sep 16, 2010 08:18 AM

                                                                  That sanwich certainly looks chow-worthy. Road trip? Most of the places that do a Bahn Mi in Boston do more of a terriyaki style prep then a braised brisket... Dang that photo made me drool.

                                                              3. re: StriperGuy
                                                                MC Slim JB Sep 25, 2010 11:31 AM

                                                                Now that I think about it, the BBQ beef bánh mì at Lee's Store and Bakery is kind of brisket-like. Their pork meatball version is really good, too.

                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                            2. cheezsandwich Sep 27, 2010 01:55 PM

                                                              I'm slightly biased as a vegetarian, but my favorite is 163 Vietnamese Sandwich, as their "chicken" sandwich is probably the best in Chinatown. For bread, Mei Sum Bakery is the best, though I am reluctant to return there after getting a cake which had mould in the middle. I feel for the true Banh Mi experience, Chinatown is the best, as that sense of awkwardness and uncomfortability when entering for the first time is cathartic.

                                                              http://www.cheesesandwich.org

                                                              1. g
                                                                Gabatta Oct 22, 2010 12:34 PM

                                                                After I polished off my grilled chicken bahn mi at Pho Viet this afternoon, I caved and did what I have always been tempted to do by ordering a 2nd sandwich (grilled pork this time). I demolished that one as well, and didn't even feel like I was going to burst. Is it wrong to crush 2 bahn mi at one meal?

                                                                -----
                                                                Pho Viet
                                                                1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Gabatta
                                                                  Mike5966 Oct 22, 2010 12:48 PM

                                                                  No.

                                                                  Two bowls of pho in a row, however, is a different story... as is bahn mi, pho, then a second bahn mi. I was probably sitting at Ken's while you were doing this, by the way.

                                                                  1. re: Gabatta
                                                                    nsenada Oct 22, 2010 01:59 PM

                                                                    There is no shame. I frequently get fried spring rolls to accompany a Banh Mi, and a coconut bun for dessert.

                                                                    1. re: nsenada
                                                                      k
                                                                      Kenji Nov 13, 2010 07:34 AM

                                                                      At Mei Sum I will usually get a coconut pie to follow my banh mi.

                                                                    2. re: Gabatta
                                                                      MC Slim JB Nov 10, 2010 04:22 AM

                                                                      I have done this on a few occasions, but I've decided is that 1.5 is the perfect lunchtime amount of banh mi. One is actually enough to get me through the afternoon, but I like them so much I want a few more bites. When I eat two, it can make me feel a bit uncomfortably full. So, two people, three sandwiches, voila.

                                                                      (Worth noting that Pho Viet is more generous with meat fillings than any other banh mi stand I know in Boston.)

                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                    3. 4
                                                                      4Snisl Nov 9, 2010 07:41 PM

                                                                      I have no point of comparison for any other place in Boston, but the BBQ beef (spicy) at New Saigon on Washington Street was mighty tasty today. At first I'd only ordered one, but it looked so good as it was being assembled, I asked if they could make me one more.

                                                                      The person beside me in line glanced over, smiled and said, "Good idea...."

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: 4Snisl
                                                                        j
                                                                        joth68 Nov 10, 2010 05:56 AM

                                                                        That is one of my favorites.

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