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Who Makes The Best Banh Mi Sandwiches?

Im close to downtown LA but often find myself in Monterrey Park, Rosemead, etc for lunch and am wondering where to find some great Bahn Mi sandwiches. Any info would be greatly appreciate.

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  1. It's spelled banh just FYI. My favorite at the moment is Banh Mi My Tho in Alhambra.

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    Banh Mi My Tho
    304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

    6 Replies
      1. re: wilafur

        How does Banh Mi My Tho compare with Banh Mi Che Cali? (both in price and taste)

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster

          iirc, they are $2.25 or $2.50each. i feel they are more liberal with the pate and meats than the bmcc down the street on valley but is on par with the bmcc in westminster.

          if i had a choice in sgv, i'd choose bmmt over bmcc.

        2. re: wilafur

          +3 on Banh Mi My Tho. For quantity, BAnh Mi Che Cali et al with the "buy two, get one free" deals.

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          Banh Mi My Tho
          304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

          1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

            Was just there last week... and YUM.

            And cheap. And good. Looking for a reason to be in Alhambra again soon.

          2. As of a few years back, there was a wide consensus on Chowhound that the bakery location of Banh Mi Che Cali in Little Saigon (the one in a converted Taco Bell on Brookhurst) makes the best sandwiches (although other faves have been creeping in recent years).

            http://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&...

            I've become somewhat of a creature of habit these days and haven't wavered from Banh Mi Che Cali in quite a long time. Certainly with their buy 2 get one free deal, Banh Mi Che Cali offers one of the greatest bangs-for-the-buck in all of Southern California. $5 for 3 massive sandwiches on real freshly baked bread (not that awful heat-and-serve that passes for "freshly baked bread" in supermarkets and fast food shops these days.)

            Mr Taster

            2 Replies
            1. re: Mr Taster

              Agreed on Banh Mi Che Cali. Their $5 for 3 sandwiches deal is a steal. You can also get a Banh Mi on their fresh baguette (instead of the french roll) for a little more money.

              1. re: annapurna7

                After living very close to BMCC since they opened, (moved recently), I always noticed most locals were buying the baguette sandwiches. The breads are identical except for the ratio of crust to interior. Careful investigative research (yum) revealed baguette sandwiches have 50% more meat/filling than 3 for 2 sandwiches. We ended up always buying baguette sandwiches, and french rolls to make sandwiches at home.

            2. Is there anywhere I can get a Banh Mi that doesn't have fish sauce in it (whether it's used in the cooking/flavoring of the meat or whatever)? I don't eat fish/seafood, and I tried NomNom's Banh Mi once, and definitely tasted fish sauce (I got the BBQ pork) - I think it might have been in the pickled carrots/vegetables (?), and couldn't finish it. I think I would like them if they didn't have fish sauce though...

              (I generally stay away from Vietnamese because they use fish sauce in ALOT of their stuff...)

              31 Replies
              1. re: mdpilam

                Fish sauce is a central ingredient and flavor in Vietnamese cooking.

                I think it's a bit absurd to go to a place which caters specifically to Veitnamese tastes and request or expect an adjustment that fundamentally alters the food and flies in the face of deep rooted culinary tradition.

                In fact, it's taken 150 years of American history to actually be able to eat Asian food that tastes like it does back in the mother country (and even then, only in select communities), so I'm quite adamantly set against this idea. Thankfully Vietnamese and especially Korean cooking did not suffer the same deep rooted injustices that Chinese food has suffered, and we certainly shouldn't be encouraging Vietnamese restaurateurs to go the route of adulteration!

                Vietnamese food is fantastic as it is. Let's keep it that way.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  I agree, and that is why I have given up on Vietnamese (and most of Japanese) food. I figured I'd see if there was a place that made them w/o it though, because I am a sucker for a good deal, and at 3 for $5, I would love to have that!

                  1. re: mdpilam

                    You can ask them to lay off the fish sauce. BTW, it is put on separately from the pickled vegetables which are usually only flavored with sugar, vinegar and maybe some salt, but definitely not fish sauce. I'm not sure why that would be such a problem to ask them for no fish sauce on your banh mi.

                    Banh Mi Che Cali has a veggie ham banh mi that doesn't use fish sauce. I forget what they use instead (Maggi?). I saw them make it, no fish sauce. However, the veggie ham might have egg in it. I will be the first to admit it's not as good as a regular banh mi. No pate and only a few, irregularly sliced pieces of that ham.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      iirc, they use fish sauce when cooking the proteins that go into the banh mi.

                      1. re: wilafur

                        As far as I know, traditional recipes for thit nuong, grilled pork (#8 at My Tho), use fish sauce.

                        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                          IMHO, BMMT's #8 is the best banh mi I've tried.

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            "...the best banh mi I've tried."

                            "Better" than some of the Westminster places?
                            Specifically, I am thinking about the one that has no seating...you have to go to the adjacent park and eat on one of the picnic tables. (I know this is not very useful information, but it was discussed on these boards some while back...I'm hoping someone will post with the specifics.)

                            There is another popular place on a corner in Little Saigon that also has good sandwiches. This place has a few tables outside on the sidewalk.

                            (My memory is quickly failing...too many lemon bars!)

                            1. re: liu

                              Banh Mi Cho Cu

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                              Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery
                              14520 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

                              1. re: Tapeworm

                                Oh, THANKS, Tapeworm! That's the one near the park!
                                Have you tried both Banh Mi Cho Cu and Banh Mi My Tho? If so, how would you compare them?

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                                Banh Mi My Tho
                                304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                1. re: liu

                                  Sorry, I have no experience with any of the banh mi places in SGV.

                              2. re: liu

                                I plead ignorance when it comes to Little Saigon banh mi. My first and only one there was Lee's. Life altering for me as it was where I popped my banh mi cherry, but nothing to write home about now that I've tried a ton of places in the SGV. I'm always curious as to how the SGV banh mi rate next to the Little Saigon banh mi but this is the first post so far brings any hint of rivalry between the two areas.

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  And I have plans to try Banh Mi My Tho sometime soon.

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                                  Banh Mi My Tho
                                  304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                  1. re: liu

                                    The way you've described Banh Mi Cho Cu is pretty much the same situation at Banh Mi My Tho. They've pretty much cut out all the unnecessary overhead. You grab a chrysanthemum tea, order, you pick up, and you find you own refuge to enjoy that piece of banh mi heaven...

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                                    Banh Mi My Tho
                                    304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      Hmmmm...I'm not so much into the chrysanthemum tea. I prefer an iced coffee with my banh mi; it cuts the jalapeno nicely. Even a sugar cane juice -- if freshly pressed -- is a good banh mi companion.

                                      1. re: liu

                                        Banh Mi My Tho has very good cafe sua da but no fresh sugar cane juice. I like chrysanthemum tea because you don't - just kiddin'... :)

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                                        Banh Mi My Tho
                                        304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          I have heard about the freshly brewed? cafe sua da at Banh Mi My Tho, so I am looking forward to that. Generally, I don't like sweet drinks and I am also a tea drinker (go figure!) -- and with condensed milk we are talking extremely sweet -- b u t, it goes well with the bite of the jalapeno. For me, banh mi is as much about the jalapeno kick as it is about the crunch of the bread.

                                          Sugar cane juice is best immediately after being pressed; I have tried many and they vary greatly from glass to glass, depending on how nice the canes are.

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                                          Banh Mi My Tho
                                          304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                          1. re: liu

                                            Try the Green Tea grass drink.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Thanks, ipsedixit, for this suggestion!

                                            2. re: liu

                                              It's not bad. They use an espresso machine to extract the coffee and mix it with the condensed milk when you order it.

                                2. re: bulavinaka

                                  I'm partial to the #2 myself. It has some of the thit nuong mixed in with all the pate and headcheese...

                            2. re: choctastic

                              I think whey is more common in the veggie ham than egg. Most of the veggie him is vegan, at least based on its stated ingredients (though it is heavily processed). Getting a vegetarian banh mi (available at most of the places which sell banh mi) is one way you could be pretty sure that you're not getting any fish sauce, though you wouldn't get any meat then either.

                              I agree that the pickles do not generally have fish sauce, though they do get a funky smell from the radish... maybe that's part of what the OP is noticing. I am not sure if fish sauce is used in cooking the meats themselves, but certainly you could ask them not to put fish sauce on when they make the sandwich. I am pretty sure things like pate, butter, mayo, and Maggi sauce are common condiments; not as sure about fish sauce.

                              FWIW, the guy at Banh Mi My Tho (at least the one who was working when we went in on Sunday) not only speaks perfect English, but is very cheerful, so maybe a good place to try if you have weird requests. [side note to choco or others of the vegan persuasion: they also claim that the baguettes, which are not made in-house, also don't have a butter coating, as many places' seem to]

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                              Banh Mi My Tho
                              304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                              1. re: will47

                                >>FWIW, the guy at Banh Mi My Tho (at least the one who was working when we went in on Sunday) not only speaks perfect English, but is very cheerful, so maybe a good place to try if you have weird requests.<<

                                I was there on saturday ordering a #8 for my son and the young man you mention helped me as well. Might he be the owners' son? I usually am served by (my guess is) the matron? He's sharp, polite, very helpful and understanding. This really helps me because I'm the idiot who is mispronouncing words, grabbing stuff just as he finishes ringing me up, and stands outside but normally never hears my order being called... :)

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                                Banh Mi My Tho
                                304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  Yep, everytime I go, he's the one I've been helped by. Very friendly, helps people who don't know which sandwich to order, and when I butcher words, he's able to pick up on it. I think he is the son of the owner.

                                  1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                    I also give props to Banh mi my tho. I go for the chicken. Banh mi che chale is also pretty damn good.

                                    No votes for Mr. Baguette on Atlantic? They're a little more expensive, but damn good.

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                                    Mr. Baguette
                                    400 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                    1. re: granadafan

                                      I like Mr. Baguette's smoked bacon banh mi. It's unique and the bacon is pretty tasty. The bread there is always fresh, but I wish they'd make the cafe sua da fresh instead of the premade stuff, which is a couple of degrees too strong for me. The one on Valley is a popular hangout for many of the local Vietnamese community. It is a nice space overall...

                                      1. re: granadafan

                                        To be perfectly honest, I've never been to Mr. Baguette...

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                                        Mr. Baguette
                                        400 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                        1. re: granadafan

                                          I like the convenience of Mr Baguette's Atlantic location but their pate smear is getting lighter and lighter and the veggies that come w/the sandwiches have shrunken from the original fresh and delightful cilantro, jalapeno, white radish and carrot mix to just carrots (and pick your own jalapenos while you wait.)
                                          Looking forward to trying BMMT up the street for the first time this afternoon. I needed a new place so thanks for this topic.

                                      2. re: bulavinaka

                                        Yes, I think he's the son. I love that guy. He speaks English, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. How awesome is that? And he's always in a good mood. Just don't ask him how's X or how's Y because he'll make it sound so good, you'll find it impossible not to order it as well as what you came there for.

                                        Not on the regular menu, but on a print-out next to the window, they also have half a butter fried chicken on broken rice or bun (rice noodles) for $4.50. VERY good but definitely a messier meal than a banh mi.

                                      3. re: will47

                                        Yeah, he is GREAT!! Very helpful and describes the dishes wonderfully! Last time we went we had this wonderful steamed bun with ground meat and a egg in the middle! We SO want to find this in other places!

                                        We also love Banh Mi My Tho, but it should be noted their sandwich is a little different from Lees and Che Cali. It's a fatty thing and the bread a lot more dense. We actually like the crisper airiness of the thinner Bahn mi sometimes... for that reason I love having the option of the sesame bread of Mr. Baguette...

                                        --Dommy!

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                                        Mr. Baguette
                                        400 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                        Banh Mi My Tho
                                        304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                        1. re: Dommy

                                          I'll definitely agree the bread is the weakest part of a sandwich from BMMT.

                                  2. I'm going with Saigon's Sandwich & Bakery on Valley in SGV. You don't need to drive to Westminster anymore as there is a slew of Vietnamese everything in SGV now.
                                    From a review of mine of the #1 there: "I tore the wrapping off and took a big, deep bite. Chewed. Oh yes, this is a bahn mi. ZIngy, spicy, light and crunchy, the creamy pate smoothing it out and binding it all together. This is what Umami means! Excellent."

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: dharmathug

                                      While I really enjoy the bread from Saigon Sandwich, their fillings outside of the special are very lacking. The BBQ Pork which ought to be thit nuong was a weird, almost fake red color and dry.

                                    2. i went with my sister on a little lemongrass beef banh mi crawl today: top baguette vs. nhu lan bakery.

                                      lemongrass beef: at top baguette, the beef was thinly sliced, dark brown, and pretty sweet. unfortunately, i couldn't really taste any lemongrass. it was tender and moist, but not succulent. nhu lan's beef was more of a hash, orange-colored from a dressing that dripped everywhere and made for a succulent sandwich. it was slightly sweet and had a lot more lemongrass!

                                      baguette: neither had noteworthy baguettes, but i liked the one at top a lot more. the crust was on the thick side, but it was light enough and crunchy without being abrasive or dry. nhu lan's baguette was not crisp at all, at least not today. consequently, the sandwich felt heavier.

                                      vegetables: the pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeño were fresh at both places. top put more in their sandwich, which helped balance the overly sweetened meat. nhu lan put less, reinforcing the heavier, more substantial feeling.

                                      conclusion: both sandwiches had obvious shortcomings, but they were still enjoyable for different reasons. the search continues!

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                                      Nhu Lan Bakery
                                      13036 Harbor Blvd Garden, Grove, CA

                                      Top Baguett
                                      9062 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                                       
                                       
                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: raizans

                                        I"m a fan of Nhu Lan. Partially because I have fond memories of Nhu Lan bakery in Saigon.

                                        For the best Banh Mi in LA/OC? I vote Ba Le on Bolsa. It's about the meat. I think they have the best meat.

                                        Of course I also like Lee's , BMCC, Banh Mi Cho Cu too. There is even a place in Tustin that I like! I just like Banh Mi.

                                        But a real treat....Ba Le.

                                        1. re: bsquared2

                                          Tried Ba Le today after reading your rec. Had a Ga banh mi and a thit nuong banh mi. Liked the chicken, gpod coarsely chopped dark meat, crispy/soft ratio for the bread was nice for this one. Definitely tops the Ga banh mi at Banh Mi & Che Cali for sure, probably Cho Cu's as well.
                                          The thit nuong was not my favorite; the pork and cooked green onion mixture just didn't work for me. I like Cho Cu's a lot better than the one I had at Ba Le. BM&CC on brookhurst/talbert (nicely grilled pork), next best, then the other BM&CCs,

                                          1. re: I got nothin

                                            ba le's cafe sua da is fantastic, probably the only sandwich shop cafe sua da I'll buy

                                            1. re: I got nothin

                                              I do like Cho Cu's grilled pork. When I go to Ba Le, I usually get the Dac Biet. My middle name should be Dac Biet.

                                              1. re: bsquared2

                                                Does the Ba Le in Alhambra (Atlantic and Valley) have the same ownership as the Ba Le in Westminster? If so, do they also have home-made charcuterie?

                                                1. re: bsquared2

                                                  I'll try the Dac Biet next time, looked like they had a nice pate selection in their deli case. Have you tried Ba Le's xiu mai banh mi?

                                                  1. re: I got nothin

                                                    their xiu mai is okay, I wish they put more meat in there.