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Nov 9, 2011 06:52 PM

House-baked Baguettes and Banh Mi from Phat Tri in San Jose

One of our visitors treated us to a boatload of banh mi from a new place in San Jose on Story Road called Phat Tri. The owner of the now-closed L’Amour des Baguettes shops has a hand in it.

The banh mi are $3.50 each using a skinny baguette that’s about a foot and a half long. Our friend brought an assortment with the veggie garnishes (cilantro, pickled coarsely shredded daikon and carrots, cucumber, jalapeño slices) and Vietnamese “butter” packed separately for travel. I had a chance to try the headcheese and pate, steamed pork and pate, and ham combination.

Phat Tri’s bread is baked in-house. We reheated the sandwiches in the oven before serving and the baguettes crisped up beautifully. This bread’s quite different with the crisp crust cracking into delicate flakey layers and the interior’s notably moister and softer than other examples. We were heating up and eating the leftovers over the course of a week, and I have to marvel at how well the bread perked up. Even the filled baguettes that had gone soggy in the fridge and drooped over revived to crispy crust and tender crumb once toasted. Phat Tri also sells smaller size torpedo rolls, 5/$1.

Presented with a whole tub of “butter” or “beurre” instead of just a swath on a roll, this was my chance to delve into the mysteries of this Vietnamese condiment. Some say it’s a blend of butter (or margarine) and mayonnaise; others claim it’s made from egg yolks and vegetable oil.

Now having ingested several spoonfuls of the butter, I’m pretty sure that Phat Tri’s version has no dairy in it. The texture’s like a thick and glossy yolk-heavy aioli with the sunny yellow color of lemon curd. There’s no discernable acid, making it different from a mayonnaise. A slight sweetness rounds out the finish and I pick up some savoriness as well as slight granularity that might come from powdered garlic. In any case, I love the stuff and the richness it lends to the sandwich.

The Vietnamese-style cold cuts were thinly sliced and evenly applied over the hollowed baguettes. But what really took Phat Tri’s sandwiches over the top was the pate. Surprising because I usually prefer the creamier styles over Phat Tri’s coarse-ground spread, but the fine hand with seasoning and non-muddy taste made the pate a stand-out.

Huong Lan on Tully Road has been my go-to for banh mi in San Jose. And I enjoyed my one jaunt to Thanh Huong Sandwich. But I think that Phat Tri will be taking the lead in my Vietnamese sandwich rotation.

Huong Lan Sandwiches
1655 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

Thanh Huong Sandwich
2593 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA 95111

L'Amour des Baguettes
1181 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

Phat Tri
1210 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

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  1. Better than Huong Lan? Ooh, I'll have to check it out! I love the shredded chicken banh mi and plethora of che (especially if I manage to nab a cup of che xoi nuoc before it disappears) and other sweets there.

    Have you tried Cam Hung in Sunnyvale? Just curious how it compares, in your opinion. The banh mi there are quite tasty; the owner recently redid the menu display, which shows well over a dozen choices, including multiple vegetarian, fish and chicken options. They also provide freshly made salad rolls. The service is very sweet, friendly and fast. (If only they offered banh xeo, but I can dream, I suppose. ;)

    Huong Lan
    404 S 2nd St, San Jose, CA

    Cam Hung Restaurant
    903 Reed Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

    3 Replies
    1. re: sairuh

      I wanted to wait to answer you until I'd tried a fully assembled sandwich fresh from the shop. I stopped by on Sunday afternoon --- what a zoo! Phat Tri has definitely found an audience and the parking lot is way too small for their customers.

      Anyway, I wouldn't say that the sandwiches are better than Huong Lang Sandwiches. They are a great deal at $3.50, essentially getting a sandwich that is twice as big for just 50¢ more. I still loved the bread. But the pickled veggies were a bit undercured, seeming too fresh, maybe because the demand seems to be going crazy. The proportion of veggie garnishes on the sandwich was too much for my tastes. And the bread was hollowed out so much in the two examples I purchased that the sandwiches collapses. Also, not enough butter for me.

      The menu offers about 12 meated types and 5 or so vegetarian. The store also has an shelves of French cookies and other desserts. I got a combo dac biet banh mi that had pate, ham, steamed pork, and headcheese (pig ears). Also a barbecue pork (char siu). For both of these types, I'd say that Huong Lan Sandwiches is better, especially for the barbecue pork.

      I've not tried Cam Hung, but good to know it's there for the next time I'm nearby and need a bite.

      Huong Lan Sandwiches
      1655 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

      Cam Hung Restaurant
      903 Reed Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

      Phat Tri
      1210 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I went to Huong Lan today and i asked them which 3 of their sandwiches they like most. and i got grilled pork, ham+pate+headcheese and bbq pork. for the bbq pork, she actually offered me a choice between bbq chicken and bbq pork, i chose the former but for some reason the latter was in my bag.

        of the 3, i love the ham+pate+headcheese the most. its a great combination of flavors from the meat, pate, pickled veggies, herbs and i believe some chile peppers. each of them its $2.75 for what looks to be a 7-8" sandwich.

        next time, will have to do Phat Tri for comparison. i tried Cam Hung two years ago. while i don't remember the specifics, i do remember that i enjoyed the sandwiches at the time.

        for the grilled pork and bbq pork sandwiches, i think its fine. but the flavors are a bit more one-dimensional for me compared to the ham/pate sandwiches.

        1. re: ckshen

          My favorite at HL is the combo also. My mother favors the bbq pork. Some times we buy the bbq pork by the pound at Huong Lan's bbq counter.

    2. nice find.

      according to the Yelp reviews they make sandwiches in 2 sizes and it's +$0.50 to "supersize" to the long-thin baguettes you had.

      1 Reply
      1. re: drewskiSF

        The menu board only shows the $3.50 size on the long (18") thing baguettes. The smaller torpedo rolls, sold unfilled, are now 4/$1. I also saw the pate in tubs for $5 and the "butter" for $3.

        Next time I think I'll follow my friend's lead and have my sandwich packed unassembled, then put it together myself with the proportions I want.

      2. At your suggestion, I finally made it down to Little Saigon before Phat Tri closes at 9 PM. (I usually go to Little Saigon later than that for fatty pho at Pho Ha.) You are right, Melanie. This place is run by some of the same people from L'Amour des Baguettes, which was across the street before it closed. The sandwich they serve at Phat Tri seems a little different than the sandwich they served at L'Amour. The pate is not quite as unctuous, the veggies are not quite as crisp, and the bread is not quite as artisanal. But they totally won me over with their all-pig-ear No. 2...the crunch of the baguette crust echoed in the crunch of the daikon echoed in the crunch of the pig ear. And there was a lot of pig ear and it was high quality. The throughput from their "open kitchen" was pretty amazing when I was there, probably driven at least partly by the nearby Tet New Year festivities. They were also selling excellent dried fuyu persimmons in a clear plastic clamshell for around four bucks. Thank you so much for pointing me to this place.

        Total non sequitur. I believe you are the foremost authority on local access to the legendary craft brew, Pliny the Younger. Do you have any tips for beer berserkers willing to motor up to Santa Rosa in early February?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Dave.Pitinga

          I like that. Baguette crunch ))) Daikon crunch ))) Pig ear crunch )))

          As far as PTY, OCD got the better of me last year. :-J I'm not really a beer person, so is your question about food, drink or PTY specifically?

          Pho Ha Vietnamese Restaurant
          951 McLaughlin Ave, San Jose, CA 95122

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Don't sell yourself short, Melanie. You're obviously a polymath. PTY specifically, in answer to your question. Tasting notes are unnecessary. Tips as to visiting the Russian River brewpub in Santa Rosa during the release weeks (beginning on February 3rd, I believe) would be much appreciated.

            1. re: Dave.Pitinga

              Appreciate the props, but again, I haven't been to the RR brewpub for PTY personally so have no first hand knowledge. The release at the source is indeed tomorrow, Feb 3, and the website offers advice.

              And in last yr's thread, best time windows were mentioned.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thanks, Melanie. The time windows will help a lot.

          2. re: Dave.Pitinga

            Forgot to mention this before. Phat Tri was selling Red Boat Fish Sauce: That's a good sign.

            1. re: Dave.Pitinga

              Dave, when you have a chance, could you please check out Thien Huong newly opened across the street from Phat Tri? The bread baker is there now.

          3. Sandwiches are now $4. Still great value as you get essentially two normal sized ~8" halves.

            I got the combo which was heavy on the cha lua and light on the other proteins (see pic) so just had a couple of bites where the pate came through, which I enjoyed.

            They were working on a large order so maybe impacted things because the bread was only lightly toasted so not much of that crackle/crunch I love.

            They did have pre-made "mini" banh mi by the register. These were smaller than the regular torpedo about palm sized. I saw only cha lua ones and I can't remember what the price for those were.

            1. ohhhhh! husband is a police officer in that district so will be having him pick up some of those to bring home to San Ramon soon!

              1 Reply
              1. re: swampnurse

                Be sure to warm them up again when he gets them home. And let us know how you like 'em.