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Jul 21, 2010 06:12 PM

Italian guy making Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) in Montreal's Chinatown

So while I was visiting Montreal, I wandered by this little spot on St. Laurent and was tempted by the pictures of the various sandwiches posted in the window. So I walked in and saw the guy peeking out from near the back. I could see that he was not 100% Asian, but I thought nothing of it, figuring he was mixed. So I started speaking Cantonese to him, asking for a banh mi. He said to me back in English "sorry I don't speak Vietnamese. I'm learning that tomorrow." So I laughed and spoke to him in English. As he tells it, he took over the spot to help out a friend in need and he's been there ever since. I asked for the basic banh mi (I think #1, not sure). I watched him prepare it. After he put the spread on, and the meats on, he stuck it into the toaster oven. The sandwich was really below average. The vegetables were not crunchy, the meats lacked flavor and the bread was soggy. But I thought it was a cool experience and we had a good convo. Sorry, for the life of me, I made a mental note of the place, but can't recall the name...

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  1. That would be Cao Thang.

    Pâtisserie C T Binh‎ (a.k.a. Coa Thang)
    1082, boulevard Saint-Laurent
    (514) 392-0097

    1 Reply
    1. haha sounds like angelo from top chef (except his restaurant is good)

      1. so, i assume a below average banh mi done by a "real" vietnamese would have been ok ? or is it the fact that he did not speak chinese in a vietnamese sandwich place ?

        just wondering.


        4 Replies
        1. re: Maximilien

          The 2 issues are not connected. Or, not meant to be, anyway. I did not mean to imply in anyway that his ethnicity had anything to do with the quality of the food, good or bad.
          The fact that it was a subpar sandwich was just my straight-out food reporting.
          The fact that he was not Vietnamese/Chinese was simply a trip observation - a first for me, a novelty, since I had never seen a non-Vietnamese Chinese making banh mi. And I spoke Chinese to him because: a) that's all I know - I do not speak Vietnamese, nor French for that matter; and b) chances are good that if he was Asian, he would be Vietnamese of Chinese extraction (judging from all of the Chinese & Vietnamese signs, as that is usually the case with the Chinese-Vietnamese food vendors in New York's Chinatown).

          1. re: nooyawka

            Hey nooyawka, just a suggestion; when you're back in town and happen to have a sunday dinner open (well any dinner open, just that if you're only around on the 24/25...), maybe give Kazu on St. Catherine a try. Not Chinese or Viet, but Japanese izakaya, a kind of antithesis to rude dim sum...hehe

            1. re: porker

              Thanks for the rec porker! It was right under my nose as I was there 3 weeks ago during the World Cup Finals and parked right at the intersection on St. Marc off St. Catherine Ouest. I think I might have walked by and checked out the menu. Sounds delish. Have to keep it in mind for the future. I saw this post too late to check it out this weekend, but I was off hunting down Montreal's best ice cream on Sunday...

              1. re: nooyawka

                Its kinda non-descript, but this board had rave reviews. I was thouroughly happy there.

        2. In my experience this individual is one of the rudest I've yet encountered in the food service industry. After going there a couple of times I just couldn't handle his attitude anymore. I went in one final time and asked him a question prior to ordering (something fairly innocuous like "do you have hot sauce?") and he scowled, barely raised his head to make eye contact or address me, and just barked NO. I turned and walked out and haven't been back. This guy doesn't deserve your money. Go to the place across the street, the young Vietnamese girls that work in there are friendly and, especially if you're going in there on your lunch break during a hard day at work, it makes all the difference.