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Best banh mi in Chinatown 2014

Turns out we haven't discussed this topic in years. What are the current contenders for banh mi in Chinatown? Hints on particular strengths -- bbq meats vs cold cuts, for example -- would also be nice.

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  1. Thanks for starting this thread! I would also be interested in hearing about the best vegetarian banh mi options in Chinatown as well.

    1. Mmm. Let's not forget the venerable tendon...

      1. It's not in Chinatown but the Bahn Mi at the new brick and mortar Mei Mei is really good. I like it better than the Meyers and Chang version. But I am spending a lot of time near Chinatown these days and would love some guidance to check out the Bahn Mi there.

        1. The candidates: Mei Sum Bakery, 163 Vietnamese Sandwiches, New Saigon Sandwich, Lu's (inside Pho Hoa). That's the preference order I'd place them in, but I haven't been to the last two in a few years.

          If you include DTX/Fi-Di, you've also got Banh Mi House in the Winter Street arcade and food trucks Bon Me and Momogoose. Of those, BMH is my runaway favorite.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          9 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Bahn Mi Houses' crispy pork bahn mi, is great. Mei Sum is my favorite, BBQ beef in particular there, extra spicy please!

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Pretty close to how I'd rank them, though I'll mix both Chinatown and DTX (sorry Jenny):

                Mei Sum Bakery
                163 Vietnamese Sandwiches (tie)
                Banh Mi House (tie)
                New Saigon Sandwich
                Bon Me
                Momogoose

                Really don't know how Momogoose won an award for anything. It's just passable.

                Never been to Lu's!

                1. re: Alcachofa

                  Lu's used to be inside the little foyer that connected the Thai (or was it Vietnamese?) jewelry store on Beach Street and the former C-Mart. It moved into the Pho Hoa a couple of years ago. I feel like their bread was always inferior to Mei Sum and 163. Once upon a time, it had a two-woman staff that worked like lightning; other times, a young guy who was painfully pokey.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I remember trying Lu's when it was in the back of the jewelry store on Beach St and when I saw they were using a cooler (like you take to the beach) to store food it was the last time I was there. As much as I love working/eating in CTown I am leery of food storage practices and cleanliness of the place. I may have a cast iron stomach but I don't like to tempt fate! The good thing is I wasn't impressed with the sandwich from Lu's

                  1. re: galangatron

                    As I mentioned, it's been some years since I've been back to Lu's: it could be gone. Anyone been to Pho Hoa lately?

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: galangatron

                        Same here, which I like. Similarly, no surprise, I think the Dorchester Pho Le is worthier, more traditional, than the chain's other local outlets.

                        I remain pleasantly surprised and gratified that Boston Magazine does bits like this occasionally: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaur...

                        Their old reputation merited Chowhound scorn, but the new editor (ex-Boston Phoenix) has hired some very good food writers.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                2. I have worked in CT for 8 years and have tried EVERY place that ever offered a Banh Mi including places that are no longer here. I love the 163 Sandwiches on Harrison Ave. They are the only place that has the tiny hot hot peppers, all the others have the canned jalapeno's that just don't cut it. They also have a ton of vegetarian Bahn Mi's and also a BBQ pork, a pulled pork, the BBQ Beef (my fav.) cold cut.

                  I do love the Mei Sum for their raisin rolls...

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: MeffaBabe

                    I am going to hurry down to 163 Sandwiches on Harrison, I'll next door to Chinatown on Wednesday. Thank you

                      1. re: MeffaBabe

                        *Canned* jalpenos? Really? I'm not into the "tiny hot hot peppers," but Pho Viet at least uses fresh jalapenos. The idea of canned seems gross to me.

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          Some places use pickled, and those sometimes they come from a jar. Mei Sum and 163 both use fresh, I believe.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        2. re: MeffaBabe

                          Not true, unless there has been a change recently. Mei Sum has always used fresh thai bird chilis.

                          1. re: tysonmcneely

                            I have never had the thai bird chilis at Mei Sum only at 163. I may have to try them again then.

                            1. re: MeffaBabe

                              Yep, I get fresh bird chillis at Mei Sum too.

                              1. re: MeffaBabe

                                FWIW they almost never give me the bird chiles even though I know they have them. I've gone w/ other people and we'll both ask for "spicy" and I'll get jalapenos and they'll get bird chiles.

                              2. re: tysonmcneely

                                That's true, Mei Sum does use thai bird chilies.

                              3. re: MeffaBabe

                                Hi Meffababe,

                                I get my banh mi at Mei Sum and always ask for the hot peppers on the side. The come chopped, wrapped in parchment paper and they are fresh peppers, never canned or pickled. I never know how hot the peppers are on the day I am ordering, so I add them myself. Usually, they are very hot! :)

                                www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                1. re: MeffaBabe

                                  man, i must be mentally challenged more than i thought. EVery single time i see CT on chowhound, i think people are saying connecticut. and then , at some point, painfully later, i realize they're intending Chinatown....

                                  I don't want to take this OT, but if anyone ever has the chance to be in Lowell, and hungry, my fav banh mi place is up there- Hong Cuc. In the linked thread you'll see all the deli type meats they offer, but my fav is the BBQ Beef w/ extra chilis and cilantro, no mayo and no sweet fish sauce syrup. The beef is the best i've had and very plentiful compared even to Pho Viet (my fav of the boston places.)

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9807...

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    While Lowell is closer to me than CT, and I love Hong Cuc sandwiches and have been eating them a lot longer than you have, the place just doesn't belonged in a thread about The Best Banh Mi in Chinatown.

                                    I know you really like Hong Cuc, but when you go off topic, and know you're
                                    going off topic and tell everyone you are, I just don't think it's fair to the OP and their topic.

                                    Done.

                                    1. re: Infomaniac

                                      the way i think abut it is that it is on topic but slightly off, and you never know when a lurker or newbie might like to know about lowell, and it's only a few sentences.Remember, info, 'life is tough. wear a helmet.'