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Best Bahn Mi?

So after watching no reservations I had to go out and try this Viet hoagie and it is amazing. I have falling in love with this melody of flavors and am wondering where the best place to get one is located. I live in chester county but visit the city frequently so anywhere around that area is great for me.

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  1. My standby is O Sandiches on 9th Street just below Federal (just north of Pats/Genos) but I just read an article somewhere about a bahn mi with actual pork belly rather than the standard ingredients - at Garces trading Co maybe? that I want to try.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Bigley9

      That's Sampan on 13th St. I had it for dinner once and it was worse than the Viet places. Pork was chewy and not good. We removed it from our sandwiches. This was a few weeks after they opened, maybe it's better now, but I'd skip it and go to one of the sandwich shops and buy two for half the price of one at Sampan (which is admittedly a large sandwich).

      Chifa also has a fancy Bahn Mi but I've never had it.

      In South Philly I like Ba Le at 6th & Wash and Viet Huong at 11th & Wash. There are a lot of other, smaller, places with solid sandwiches in South Philly too.

      I had a really bad experience at O recently with a tofu bahn mi. It was drenched in black pepper and mostly inedible. I used to like it; I'd be willing to try it again but with so many other options I don't know when I'll get back. Service has always been inattentive and slow there, though.

      1. re: barryg

        Service has been better at O lately but the pepper would have turned me off too - and Monday they warned me that the peppers on top were jalepenos

        1. re: barryg

          Sorry to hear of your experience, O continues to be my standby and I was there within the last week. I almost always get the pate version, not the tofu so I can't speak to it but I think they have the best bread and they are fairly priced.

          1. re: barryg

            Just wanted to set the record straight. I've had the Sampan banh mi twice now, once over the summer and once in the fall. I'm going to chalk your experience up to their just having opened because both versions that I had were absolutely superb. One of my favorite foods of the last year.

             
            1. re: kukubura

              Good to hear, I'll have to give it another try.

              1. re: kukubura

                So I take it you've had the chance now to sample some of the other banh mi places in Philly?

                1. re: Buckethead

                  The only other ones I've had are from Ba Le. If O had still been open on my recent return visit I would have tried them. Alas they were gone. I won't pretend to know which is the best based on that limited sampling, but I will say which are damn good (both Sampan and Ba Le. Very different but both great.)

          2. I preferred the one I got at Ha Long Bay in Bryn Mawr to the one I had at O. O forgot the jalapenos.. Both were good though.

            1. Fu Wah Mini Market at 47th and Baltimore in West Philly is amazing! It's a family owned business and everyone who works there is super friendly. They also have a really great selection asian foods and organic products. It is hands down the best corner store in the city.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sdechamp

                AFAIK Fu Wah does not a serve a bahn mi... they have some sort of tofu hoagie that is on an Italian roll, not a baguette. Or am I mistaken?

                1. re: barryg

                  There's just about no way the famous Fu Wah "tofu hoagie" could be anything but the "banh mi sandwich." From the filling and ethnicity of the people making the sandwich, "banh mi" is what I'd call it (banh mi is just Vietnamese for bread anyway).

                  -----
                  Fu Wah
                  1871 S Olden Ave, Trenton, NJ 08610

              2. QT on 10th just north of Market is my current fav. Traditional is fresh and fabulous. Had a sardine banh mi that was a special last week that was delicious.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Nigeltab

                  I've never tried this location. Is there a loading zone nearby that I could use to do quick pick up?

                  1. re: Bigley9

                    Arch is full of on-street parking ~10 minutes for a quarter. I've never had trouble finding parking around QT.

                    Which is a good thing because their sandwiches are amazing! From the traditional to the tofu, it's all freshly and finely made.

                      1. re: Bigley9

                        Finally got to Q T yesterday - split the lemon grass tofu and hose special. Loved the lemon grass tofu falvors, house special was spot on, but I missed my O sandwiches bread. For the bread alone I'll stick with O (but if I bought a bagette at O and got a lemongrass tofu at QT and put the QT innards on the O baguette......)

                  2. re: Nigeltab

                    Love the lemongrass tofu at QT! Probably my favorite that I've had... but must get the spicy mayo or it can be dry.

                  3. I love the place on Christian street between 8th and 9th, a google search tells me it's called Cafe Nhu Y? Delicious and such a great value!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LPhila

                      Their vegetarian special hoagie is fantastic and $4.

                    2. Nice I will have to check out some of these places, I am happy my first post as a chowhound could generate a great array of answers :D

                      1. We like Q.T. the best, but it depends on what you're looking for. We made a banh mi map of Philly that is pretty helpful.

                        http://blog.thesomersteam.com/2010/04...

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: AgentRed

                            There's a good spot in the shopping center where the Asian market on Oregon Ave is that I discovered recently. Lots of variety along with the classics. They have an egg and Chinese sausage one I really need to try.

                            There's a small spot at 7th & Jackson that is ok, too.

                        1. Bread Top House 1041 Race Street in Philly Chinatown is pretty good. They also have the best BBQ and curry chicken buns.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MarkB618

                            Bread Top House has great breakfast buns too. I love their ham and cheese bun.

                          2. I was hit with a hankering for both Banh Mi + Pho today. For some reason it seems that these two are really tough to find in tandem in Philly.

                            Anyway, I hit up the cavernous Pho & Cafe Viet Huong on Wash Ave. Ordered a charbroiled pork banh mi along with a deluxe pho. Pho was good. Banh mi was good, but small. If anyone knows of other places that serve both banh mi and pho, do share - have yet to find another one based on some brief research.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: ramenbound

                              Maybe not what you're looking for, but connected to the Asian supermarket at 3rd & Oregon is a little shopping center with a Pho restaurant and a small Banh Mi take-out place almost right next door. Actually the Pho place is Kavei, a Cambodian restaurant, but they have a separate Vietnamese menu with Pho. I've never tried the Pho, I always get Cambodian soups there. The Banh Mi from the other place is good, they have some interesting ones like fried egg and Chinese sausage.

                              At 7th & Jackson, there is a little hole in the wall that does Banh Mi and Pho. I've had the Banh Mi once; it was good, but the other places are better. Have not tried the Pho because this place is usually empty and down the block is Heng Seng, which makes a great Hu Tieu Nam Vang (Cambodian noodle soup). Everything on 7th St closes at 7pm and the area is a little sketchy after dark.

                              1. re: barryg

                                I found the menus, the Banh Mi/Pho spot at 7th & Jackson is called Café Chau and they close at 6pm on weekdays, 7pm on weekends according to this menu (it's a bit old).

                                The Banh Mi place at 3rd & Oregon is called Viet French Cafe, and apparently that shopping center is called South Philly Victoria Shopping Center. Looking over the menu, I really need to get back here--they have 22 kinds of Banh Mi, some other interesting ones are bacon, vegetarian pork, Malasian curry, and rolled rice cake. They also have rice plates and bún.

                                1. re: barryg

                                  Great stuff - thanks for all the info!

                                  1. re: ramenbound

                                    If your up in the delco/upper darby area, Pho & Cafe Anh Hong does both, and VERY well. It's in the same shopping ctr with the H-Mart by the 69th street terminal. There's metered parking out front, but its mainly taken up by everyone going to H-Mart. There's a couple parking lots across the street.

                                    1. re: paychecktoday

                                      The banh mi and pho at the place you mention didn't measure up to Viet Huong. Not extraordinarily far off, but the thing that got me was the bread. It was hardly resembling of a baguette, bearing almost no crispiness to the crust.

                                      1. re: ramenbound

                                        The ones I've ever had there were fresh, crispy baguettes. I would never compare them foodwise anywhere near the qualities of the ones down by Washington Ave/Baltimore Ave, but not bad for where its located. Quick bite if you're by the terminal

                                  2. re: barryg

                                    I decided to make the drive out to Oregon to give Viet French a try. They do have 20 kinds of banh mi, but I just didn't like the bread.

                                    It's a nice change of pace from the places on Washington, and I really like the variety but I prefer Ba Le Bakery and the place on 8th, just North of Washington whose name escapes me right at the moment.

                              2. O's on 9th and Federal is now closed, which is a shame. I really enjoyed their sandwiches and their spring rolls were awesome.

                                Ba Le is my current favorite place.

                                1. I have tried QT, Fuh Wa and Cafe Cuong spelling is probably off but my hands down fav has been QT....I plan to continue my search..this is my FAV sandwich ever!!!