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Where to get banh mi bread? (vietnamese bread rolls)

Does anyone know where to get bread rolls that they use in those Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches?

Looking for places in San Francisco and the Peninsula that would have them. I know it isnt that hard to get ahold of in San Jose, but thats a bit too far for me.

Thanks for any info that will point me in the right direction.

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  1. Lee's Sandwiches in the Tenderloin. I actually prefer Bakers of Paris as a substitute.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sfbing

      Lee's is pretty inexpensive at $1.50.

    2. Try Bakers of Paris in Brisbane. I think they're one of the big banh mi bread suppliers in the Bay Area.

      http://www.bakersofparis.com/

      3 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        French Bakery on Taraval, which also used to be a Bakers of Paris and still has the same menu, makes them.

        1. re: Windy

          They may have the recipe, but they don't have the same ovens.

        2. re: ML8000

          You are correct. I'm pretty sure all the Lucky's carry BOP. I know the Lucky's in Millbrae does.

          1. Maybe not convenient for you, but Cam Huong Bakery in Oakland.

            -----
            Cam Huong Bakery
            1088 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

            2 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I thought the Ranch 99 in Richmond had Cam Huong Bakery rolls and wondered if it was at other stores in the chain, at least in HorthernCalifornia.

              1. re: wolfe

                Likely. There's another branch on the Peninsula in Foster City:

                http://www.99ranch.com/store_locator_...

                Pacific Super's another possibility.

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                99 Ranch Market
                250 Skyline Plz, Daly City, CA

                Pacific Supermarket
                2900 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA

            2. duc loi sells them 3 for $1, freshly baked that morning in san jose

              1. I would think you might want to make yours on better bread. For some reason the Banh Mi bread in the bay area is TERRIBLE compared to what I have had in NY and Paris.. more like cardboard than anything else.

                22 Replies
                1. re: jason carey

                  Bakers of Paris/French Bakery rolls are't like cardboard.

                  Probably some of the worst ones are stale/day old. It's hard to make a sandwich for $3.

                  1. re: jason carey

                    That's a matter of taste. I think the bread they use at Saigon Sandwich, Ba Le, and Cam Huong is good for the purpose.

                    -----
                    Cam Huong Cafe
                    920 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

                    Saigon Sandwich Shop
                    560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I find the bread at Saigon Sandwich particularly heavy and problematic. It wasn't always that way there. A pity.

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                      Saigon Sandwich Shop
                      560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Melanie, I'm pretty sure Saigon still uses bakers Of Paris. I haven't been there since the remodel though?

                        1. re: poser

                          I went to Saigon the other day and they had big bags from Bakers of Paris, which at least used to be available at most Safeways around the area.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            A few weeks ago they were using Lee's, so I guess they change up depending on how busy they are.

                            Lee's are baked fresh, and extremely cheap.

                            There are grocers along Irving that have bagged bahn mi type sandwich rolls. Some of the Mexican groceries in the Mission are also carrying the Vietnamese breads.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              Saigon seems to be using Lee's pretty consistently if not all the time. Logo on the big bag of rolls gives it away.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I think people in the bay area sometimes find it hard to admit that they don't have the "best" of something.. If you went to some of the better places in other cities you would realize that the bread used here is sub par.. I am sorry.. but its like saying that its a matter of personal taste that Wonder Bread sucks.. you might personally like it but pretty empirically, Wonder Bread sucks.

                        1. re: jason carey

                          Unless it's toasted with Kraft American Cheese, then it's iconic.

                          1. re: jason carey

                            That said...bread-wise, SF and NorCal does very, very well. Much better then any other city/region in the U.S.

                            1. re: jason carey

                              My guess is the best banh mi are in Vietnam.

                              I've had banh mi made with the best baguettes I know, and that bread didn't actually work as well as whatever they use at Ba Le, which I probably wouldn't like in any other context.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Lets agree to disagree. Iam not talking about using Acme Baguette .I am talking about a Proper Banh mi roll that does not literally taste like cardboard.
                                Which at Ba Le for instance for me they do.

                                1. re: jason carey

                                  OK, so you like Ba Xuyen in Brooklyn. This topic has two comparisons between that and local banh mi places, one of which specifically calls out our bread as better:

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/764559

                                  What place in Paris?

                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  The challenge in Vietnam is the humidity so bread quickly gets soggy or stale, depending on how it's stored. The baguettes were fine but not anything special.

                            2. re: jason carey

                              The bread used by banh mi joints in San Jose is much lighter. That's a big part of the reason I favor the ones in the South Bay. Must be a better baker down there but unfortunately I don't know who it is.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Thanh Huong Sandwiches on Senter Road in San Jose offers wonderful crusty and light rolls that are resupplied a couple of time a day for sale.

                                http://www.yelp.com/biz/thanh-huong-s...

                                -----
                                Thanh Huong
                                2050 N Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95132

                                1. re: Ken Hoffman

                                  LTNS, Ken, hope you're eating well. Thanks for this.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    My pleasure. Still out there looking for the weird and wonderful.

                              2. re: PootieTang

                                I wonder if pho in other places has been Americanized into something completely different. On another thread a guy from Denver commented that a large bowl of pho there had a pound of meat. One of the typical ways dishes are Americanized is to add more meat, and if you were used to pho heavily laden with meat, I could see that the more authentic version would be disappointing.

                                As for banh mi bread ... I suspect what you think is good banh mi bread depends a lot on whether you want it to be authentic or whether you want it to be good bread. The really authentic bahn mi rolls are great for making banh mi (as long as they're super fresh, since they have a half life of about six hours) but not very good bread from an objective standpoint.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  The main difference is size. A serving of pho in Saigon is pretty small, like instant ramen sized. You can easily eat a bowl for breakfast and not suffer carb overload. There is less meat, but the quality of the meat is not particularly good.

                                  I agree with Ruth--rice flour is used for authentic banh mi rolls, which produces something light and airy that is helpful in a humid climate, but leaves something to be desired in the flavor dept. My aunt prefers using regular wheat flour baguettes and ripping some of the insides out instead.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    In other locales where there is less competition, people can get away with serving garbage.

                                    Even in the Bay Area, I won't go to a restaurant for pho. When I have a craving, I just ask my mom :) You can't go wrong with homemade broth, simmered for hours.

                                    The bread used for the Vietnamese sandwiches are meant to complement the other savory ingredients. They aren't meant to be eaten alone. Eaten by itself, the bread isn't very good at all. But I sure as hell don't want to be chewing on something heavy or thicker when I'm eating a sandwich.

                                2. One of the other major suppliers is Buiphong Bakery in Oakland -- they sell them packaged in markets, but you can buy them directly from the bakery (they don't have a storefront, but they do sell from the production area). They keeps bakers hours (open/close early) so if you're thinking of heading over there, call and check.

                                  2800 International Blvd
                                  Oakland, CA 94601
                                  (510) 536-4581

                                  1. The pop-up next Monday at Bar Tartine is going to be done by a Laotian chef and will feature bank mi with bread made specially for the occasion by Chad Robertson. Nothing you could buy to take home, I guess, but interesting to compare to what South Asian restaurants are offering.

                                    -----
                                    Bar Tartine
                                    561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    1. I raised this question on the new york boards (where I live, literally and figuratively!).
                                      Got some ill-informed answers about heros rolls (NY'er's don't know nuthin 'bout banh mih, at least not then). I finally made my own. They were merely meh, but my research uncovered the necessity of rice flour. And then I moved on to my next fixation...
                                      Love you SF eaters, esp you veg heads. My son lives in Mountain View so hoping he'll let his ol' mom visit again soon.

                                      1. Whole Foods in San Mateo has the Bakers of Paris demi baguettes. They're about a $1/each. I've used them before in homemade banh mi sandwiches and they're very good.

                                        1. I would love to make them myself, does anyone have the recipe?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: lazylizard101

                                            I don't find anything on the Home Cooking board. Google Vietnamese baguette recipe.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              I have been looking for 2 days And found these on the web.
                                              Using rice flour seems to be a bit Of a debate.

                                              http://www.abreadaday.com/?p=1860

                                              http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com/...

                                          2. I'm bumping this discussion up, since I'll be in the market for several (maybe 12 or so?) banh mi sandwich rolls (rolls only) this coming weekend.

                                            I definitely want to buy them in SF, and if they're fresh that would be best. I'd love to find a good spot to pick them up in the Sunset (the place on Taraval could work?) or else in the Tenderloin (is Lee's the best bet there?)

                                            Thanks in advance!
                                            Dave MP

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Dave MP

                                              Lee's is the only fresh bet in the Tenderloin. They may be able to sell you the partially baked like they provide places like Saigon.

                                              The pre-bagged versions sold in markets aren't very good.

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                I'd be okay with bread that's baked fresh in San Jose and then brought up to SF by mid-Saturday morning.

                                              2. re: Dave MP

                                                Lucky's sell Bakers of Paris, Call them and have them increase their order for you.

                                                1. re: Dave MP

                                                  French Bakery on Taraval is very accommodating. Call and ask.

                                                2. Hi texazexa,

                                                  I'm not familiar with San Francisco but if you ever decide to cross the Bay Bridge to Oakland, you can find banh mi bread anywhere in Oakland Chinatown's grocery stores (between 8th Street and Franklin St). They usually have them at the front, near the cashiers. Or, you can be like me, and make them at home. Here's a recent post of how to make banh mi at home. I got this recipe from someone who works in banh mi bakery back in Vietnam and it's very authentic. It's a lot of work, a lot of waiting around actually, but all so worth it!

                                                  Vietnamese Banh Mi recipe:
                                                  http://www.vickypham.com/vickyphamcom...