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Feb 8, 2011 01:43 PM

banh mi

i wonder how we well we do in boston?

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  1. I've been enjoying this gentleman's writeups of his own search:

    1. Being a very long time banh mi fanatic from San Jose and OC, I think Boston ranked quite high. The best by far is Hau Giang on Dot Ave until they lost their lease...always a huge crowd and long wait on weekend for a reason. The author is right in saying to avoid any banh mi $6 or more; anything above $3.50 is excessive.

      7 Replies
      1. re: joebloe

        FYI, if you are craving Hau Giang, crave no more.

        While the former Hau Giang owner says she might open another shop if the opportunity presents itself, you don't have to wait to savor their subs anymore.

        Go visit LA Baguette on Dot Ave formerly King Do. The woman that used to make the subs at Hau Giang is now their resident Banh Mi maker. This woman still remember us after all these years and still remembers how we like our subs.
        Along with the traditional banh mi (this place nor any other now offers the pork loin cold cut anymore) offers about 6+ more different types:

        Traditional : Delicious as before
        Grilled Chicken: A bit too dry for me.
        Grilled Pork: lovely smokey flavor
        Grilled Pork w/Pate: This is my new all time fave (not on menu but reqested it)
        Grilled Beef: Haven't tried yet but next on my list
        Sardine: Don't think I will be trying anytime soon heck at all.
        There's a house special, veggie and I believe a ham type one also.

        Only slight difference is the bread, it's on a french baguette that they bake in house and not light and shattering like the traditional banh mi bread.

        1. re: Chocomom

          they also have a turkey banh mi on the menu

          1. re: Chocomom

            Some days their banh mi is really good and some days it suxs like Lee's banh mi in Cali. They tried to copy Lee's coffee and Lee's smoothie but not even close. That's why the place is always virtually empty and gone through the 3rd or 4th new owner in a few years.

            The Hau Giang owner told me she's not going back to banh mi but her kids wanna go higher end with new projects. Their restaurant in Weymouth flopped after a few months and their new construction on Dot Ave is at a standstill forever now.

            1. re: Chocomom

              mom, i might try trekking down to this spot today, thurs., based on your description of the grilled pork and pate(off menu request). the pork is grilled there and served warm?

              also, have you, or others, tried anything that is really good at the Guatemalan Antojitos place next door? thnx much.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                the pork in the regular banh mi thit heo nuong (grilled pork banh mi) has been grilled and is served warm

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  try the tamales de chipilín (tamales filled with masa and chipilín leaves)

                  1. re: galangatron

                    that's terrific news! i've been wanting to try chipilin leaves since i learned about them just recently. thanks much.

            2. Check out this very entertaining takedown of the NY Times banh mi article in Serious Eats by former Boston food scientist / gadfly / burger analyst J. Kenji Alt-Lopez:


              17 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I loved Kenji's response to the article, but I do sort of wish that the author was correct about the spread on banh mi being aioli. I've never had one due to my Jimmy Fallon-level hatred of mayonnaise. Is it possible to get a banh mi without mayo? Perhaps with lots of sriracha instead? Or would there be no point...?

                1. re: maillard

                  I think it is more a butter based spread than it is mayonnaise. I have never associated the spread as being mayo just butter

                  1. re: MeffaBabe

                    I think most places around town use kewpie mayonnaise, and some places mix the kewpie with butter. But yes, you can request it without.


                    1. re: yumyum

                      Kewpie! Those bottles are almost cute enough to cancel out my mayonnaise hatred. But not quite. I am definitely going to try some banh mi at the first opportunity.Thanks for the info.

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  I traveled all the way to Ba Xuyen in Brooklyn's Chinatown after scouring hundreds of pics online. Luckily I met up with an old friend I hadn't seen in years, so that was nice.

                  In pictures, the bread looks perfect and I loved the idiosyncratic burn marks on the edge of the bun from the toaster oven. The fillings looked right, I just could not wait to try it! Unfortunately my sample was marred by to much butter mayo. But I downed it happily.

                  For some reason the best banh mi for me was one of the earliest shops, inside C-Mart by the jewelry store. I can never remember the name since there really wasn't one. It was my first and best one, back in the days of $1 Banh Mi, no matter the filling. I used to have 2 of them twice a week!

                  Personally I love the butter mayo. That yellow translucent goo in the food service tray makes me say ummmm..ami. My deal breaker is jalapenos, I don't like them in Banh Mi. I much rather have pickled or fresh bird's eye chili. I wouldn't make the accusation that jalapenos are inauthentic or Americanization, but I would also wouldn't doubt it.

                  These days, I guess Ba Le is as good as any.

                  1. re: tatsu

                    I believe the 163 uses the birds eye chili not jalapenos and this is the reason I love their sandwiches so much because they are the only place that uses them here in Chinatown (boston).

                    1. re: MeffaBabe

                      I also prefer the bird chiles, but 3/4 of the time they don't actually put them on for me when i ask for it to be spicy. I don't know if there's some other magic word to say

                      1. re: MeffaBabe

                        Mei sum does them with birds eye, and I agree FAR better then the jalapeno. Jalapeno flavor is just not quite right, though it will do in a pinch.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I ask for the bird chilies at Mei Sum too, but the woman needs better practice at spreading that stuff out on the sandwich. I usually get clumps of no chili to a fire-inducing bite where I feel like my tongue will burn off soon.

                        2. re: MeffaBabe

                          Sub City, in the former Mike's Banh Mi space in Chinatown, also uses bird chilies; pickled jalapeno slices are an option there, too.


                          Sub City
                          42 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                        3. re: tatsu

                          i love the butter mayo too. especially the one at ba le bakery on dot ave in dorchester. i usually ask for a little extra

                          1. re: tatsu

                            tatsu, have you and galang also had the banh mi at LA Baguette but you prefer Ba Le Cafe? i may head down to Dot today and wonder if Ba Le is worth it. I didn't read any description from you two. Is it freshly grilled meat, served warm?Thanks much.

                            Ba Le Cafe
                            1449 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, MA

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              Did you ever get down to Dot on Thursday, o-c?

                                1. re: threedogs

                                  you wanna go w/ us? want me to pick up some for you?

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    Hey, that sounds awesome. I don't have anything planned for Thursday. I'll send you a pm!

                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                              The best thing about Kenji's post is all the indignant commenters piling on who are self-proclaimed "bahn mi" [sic] experts.

                            3. I have never had the Banh Mi in Dot but I have to say the ones from the 163 Sandwich Place on Harrison Ave in Chinatown are the absolute best in the neighborhood. I have yet to have anything from this small establishment that wasn't delicious. They also do the best frozen drinks and has the best jasmine tea.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MeffaBabe

                                I love their fried spring rolls, too (oddly, I prefer the vegetarian ones with wood ear mushrroms).

                                1. re: nsenada

                                  Just got a BBQ beef from 163, and asked about the vegetarian spring rolls - looks like they have been discontinued, sadly, due to overwhelming preference for meat.

                              2. I love the Momogoose truck at MIT. The banh mi is delicious - flavorful and fresh. And super-cheap.