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Banh Mi, please!

  • m

I'm ashamed and embarrassed.

I've never tasted banh mi. (see link below to LA Times piece for Ask Mr. Gold)

Unlike the poster in this article, I will drive as far as need be for the tastiest representation of said product.

So my question to you, dear hounds, is this... where can the best example of such a thing?

Rosemead doesn't sound so far to me :-)

Also, what is it about these sandwiches that is so extraordinary, and what is it about your individual LA picks that make them so unique and special when compared to others?

Many thanks in advance, fellow 'hounds

Mr. Taster

Link: http://www.laweekly.com/ink/05/25/whe...

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  1. What's great about banh mi is that they are incredibly cheap, pack a wallop of flavour, and are totally filling -- one sandwich at my choice below is enough for lunch, and I'm a big guy. You can't beat $2 for lunch. They're meat of your choice, plus garlic mayonnaise, pickled radish and carrot, chili peppers and cilantro (fresh coriander) on a crusty ten-inch baguette. Terrific taste and absolutely unbeatable value.

    Well, the one that started the craze is Lee's Sandwiches, on Valley Blvd in Alhambra. But for my money, the best are in a little shop called Saigon at 301 N Garfield in Monterey Park. It's across from a takeout dimsum place (which is also pretty good). It's not as expensive as Lee's ($2 per sandwich at Saigon) and you get a LOT of filling, particularly if you can pronounce the order in Vietnamese.

    If you're in Westminster, there's Banh Mi So 1 at 8948 Bolsa (and Magnolia), which has the cheapest -- $1.50 each, three for $3. I will warn you that at Banh Mi So 1 ("bahn mee shoh mutt") the vibe is Asian, not American, and so orderly lines are not going to be a feature. Just wade in (especially if you're tall -- my orders are always marked "My to", which means "big American"), watch for the old ladies with the canes, and know what you want so you can shout it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      My favorite is Banh Mi Che Cali on Brookhurst near McFadden.

      BBQ Pork or the Combination (dac biet) is the way to go.

      1. re: elmomonster

        Yeah, I like this place too. I used to like the pho joint behind it (thanh long?) but I go to Thanh My or Pho 54 nowadays.

        I do enjoy eating at converted Taco Bells. About a year ago, I ate at Haru Bang, a place on Beach (Buena Park?) which is also housed in a converted Taco Bell. The food was alright,but nothing to write home about. They serve the Korean business worker types in the area.

    2. Do yourself a favor and drive to Westminster. Although there are some pretty darn good banh mi in SGV the best, IMHO, are in Westminster. There is banh mi cali che, top baguette and Mr. Baguette, all of which have been discussed heavily on this board. Another plus if you drive to westminster, is that it is the best representation of Vietnamese food. The best pho and other national dishes await you (not to mention an awesome cultural experience...go to ABC market)

      1. Also, when you decide where to go, please enjoy your sandwich right then and there. Don't get it to go in order to eat it later at home, you won't get the full experience.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mr. Roboto

          Yes, don't wait too long. BUT...If you must wait, then ask to put the pickled veggies in a separate bag.

          Then when you get home, heat your oven to 350 or so. Then toast the sandwich for 8-10 minutes. Don't allow to color, just to crisp up the crust.

          Take out of the oven and then stuff the veggies into it.

          What you'll get will be heaven sent. Crispy, crackly crust, warm soft bread interior, cool veggies and sublime meats.

        2. For vegetarian banh mi (meaning sandwiches with fake meat, not ones with no meat), I love Baguette Express. They also have shrimp banh mi and very nice Vietnamese iced coffee. It is also a bit more comfortable and more sparklingly clean than many other SGV banh mi joints.

          Baguette Express
          400 E. Valley Blvd.
          San Gabriel (I think.)
          626-280-8883

          Link: http://www.baguetteexpress.com/

          2 Replies
          1. re: igj

            You're gotten some great advice, just whatever you decide, please dont make your first banh mi the product of Lee's.

            1. re: igj

              This also happens to be my favorite. Try the BBQ pork as well. Very good baguettes. Pricier than Mr. Baguette, Ba Le, Lees, etc.

            2. Can you find banh mi anywhere in the mid-LA/west LA area? (It's got to be somewhere around here....until I can make it out to Rosemead, Alhambra or Westminster).

              4 Replies
              1. re: snaj
                t
                tru like tru dat

                In Westwood Village near UCLA there is East West Sandwich. They serve Banh Mi as well as attempt to apply the banh mi concept to other asian cuisines.

                The only good ones are the classic Vietnamese selection IMHO.

                Link: http://www.eastwestsandwich.com/

                1. re: tru like tru dat

                  The compromise in authenticity isnt worth it. Make the drive, make a day of it

                  1. re: Mealcentric

                    East-West is horrendous. Even the "Vietnamwich" is a pale comparison.

                    It's thirty-five minutes from Westwood to Rosemead if you don't try to go when it's all trafficky (meaning evening rush hour, 3:30 to 7:30 M-F). I used to work out there, it's not that bad of a drive. And you can stop at Shau May on Garfield just north of Garvey (next to ABC Cafe) and get Taiwanese slush.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                      t
                      tru like tru dat

                      Yeah, East West isn't great, but since I don't drive I'm not left with many options. If I could drive I'd gladly head to Westminster for my banh mi fix, until then I'll have to settle while I crave proper Saigonese streetfood again.

              2. my favorite banh mi place is banh mi che cali. there are two, i go to the one on bolsa. my favorite is the barbequed pork (thit nuong). you may want to take it home with the pickled veggies separate and toast it up a bit. put the veggies back, add a little bit of sriracha and maggi sauce, and you've got a little bit of heaven.

                1 Reply
                1. re: c8

                  So far, bahn mi che cali has been my favorite as well. Best overall sandwich and value.

                  Mr. Baguette has good sesame bread, but the bread at che cali is also good, and the fillings are much less skimpy. Ba Le has the best bbq pork meat, imo, but not so good on the critical bread factor.

                2. I LOVE the Bahn Mi from Pho 79 (on Garfield & Main in Alhambra). I always get the one with "Vietnamese Ham". Perfect baguette, butter, ham, cilantro, pickled carrots, jalapeno. So good. I got one from Mr Baguette once and was thrown for a loop when I tasted the Pate -was totally not expecting it as the ones I was used to did not have it. I usually get a couple to go with the veggies on the side and nuke them for a little bit - the bread gets this fantastic chewy texture - heaven on earth!! ;-)