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Apr 29, 2010 04:58 PM

Banh Mi Discovery in Echo Park

Kien Kiang bakes traditional Vietnamese confections like Moon Cakes and other pastries and typical American offerings like birthday cakes with a photo airbrushed. Banh mi apparently is a rather recent addition and while not awe inspiring, quite a pleasant surprise. The bread is less delicate than the best of San Gabriel or that served at Atwater’s Viet Noodle Bar or the Soy Café on Hyperion, but at $3.95, overall the sandwiches exceeded my lowered expectations. There is a vegetarian version with shredded vegetarian pork, a bit stingy on shredded daikon and carrots and a bit overwhelmed by underwhelming bread but quite flavorful and satisfying. Co-workers gave similar report to Vietnamese version with real ham. There is also a California sandwich containing either turkey or ham with lettuce, cheese and mayo. For $6.00, the special consists of sandwich, soda and dessert. We sampled a very nice red velvet cake and a not too sweet cheesecake. They sell cupcake trees too, combined with real flowers and pretty cute. Service very friendly. A couple of outside tables but business mainly carry out.

Kien Giang Bakery
1471 Echo Park Avenue
Los Angeles CA 90026

Viet Noodle Bar
3133 1 2 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039

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  1. Great tip! I will check it out.

    1. Layne I spotted a new Vietnamese place on my drive down Sunset today. Found out it should open June 25. I am excited to hear they will be serving mi quang, one of my favorite noodle dishes!

      4 Replies
      1. re: maiweezy

        Xoia (say "soy-yah") I drove by and it looks very cute although I am more than a little skeptical about something called a "pho taco" and while I'm at it, why do restaurants choose names you have to be taught to pronounce?

        1. re: Layne Murphy

          I went. It was terrible, though, I didn't try the banh mi. I came for the mi quang and the banh xeo. Dry meats and flavorless broth.

          I am now interested to try the banh mi at viet noodle bar after exilekiss' positive review.

          1. re: maiweezy

            We also tried Xoia.

            I thought the mi quang was very pretty to look at; the yellow noodles are striking! But, I agree with you, maiweezy, that the mi quang was quite bland. A large bowl of it would not hold my interest for more than a couple of bites.

            I ordered the rice wraps. They were okay, but the dipping sauce was nothing more than some hoisin sauce with some ground peanuts on top. I tried to kick it up with some fish sauce, some hot sauce and a squeeze of lime, but it just became weird.

            The space is clean and bright, but the food will not call me back.

          2. re: Layne Murphy

            A "Pho Taco" sounds totally silly. I don't even get the concept. There are so many other Vietnamese meats that would go well in a taco (if you even wanted to do that). The beef that you use in Pho would not lend itself to a taco IMHO.

            Banh Xeo and Mi Quang seem like ambitious dishes for a place like this. Heck, sometimes it's even hard to find good Banh Xeo in Vietnam! It's a dish were plenty of places make an average version, but not as many make an amazing version.

            I heard that they were going to have specialty dishes from Hoi An even though most people wouldn't know the difference and I would think it would be hard to find ingredients.

            If you really want to do fusion from the Central region, I suggest a Nem Nuong Taco ;) Or a Bun Bo Hue Taco with PIg Leg! Or 7 (Taco) Courses of Beef!

            Most of the reviews I've read were kind of "meh". Seems like if I am driving to Echo Park, I might as well stay on the freeway and go to the SGV. Wish I was hearing better things. I went to a fantastic Ramen place in Studio City, so maybe good Vietnamese west of the SGV is possible.

        2. Back to Kien Giang...just tried it for the first time a few days ago, and it was mediocre at best, especially compared to the $2.50 sandwiches you can get a mile down the road in Chinatown. On the other hand, some of the pastries are quite tasty.