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Your Guide To Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches In The San Gabriel Valley
By Kristie Hang
If you're still getting your sandwiches at Subway, you're missing out! Vietnamese sandwiches, known as banh mi, continue to be one of the cheapest and most filling meals around.
There are many variations of banh mi. The classic dac biet "special" comes with Vietnamese cold cuts, liver pâté, pickled veggies, and head cheese. Another popular option is the breakfast-style banh mi, which is eaten with sunny-side-up eggs, onions, sprinkled with Maggi sauce and layered over a buttery baguette.These freshly made airy French baguette rolls are typically slathered with mayo, pâté, stuffed with meat, pickled vegetables, and jalapeños and available for under $4. But beware, not all banh mis are created equally. So here's your banh mi guide to the San Gabriel Valley!
SAIGON'S SANDWICH AND BAKERY
You can tell a Vietnamese sandwich shop is good when you can smell the aroma of fresh bread all the way from the parking lot! The banh mi here is on par with the banh mi I've eaten in Vietnam. Saigon's Sandwich and Bakery has two different types of baguettes to choose from: skinny and oblong-shaped. I highly recommend you to go with the latter. Their fresh baguettes have the perfect amount of crunch on the outside and just enough soft, fluffiness on the inside. The meat is marinated very well. My favorites include the Dac Biet (Special #1) & the Thit Nuong (Grilled pork). The mayo they use really complements the marinated meat they use.
Tip: If you're not planning on eating your banh mi right away, you should have the staff separate the veggies from the bread so that it doesn’t get soggy.
FYI: There’s a buy two, get one free oval-shaped banh mi deal going on aswell as a buy 6 sandwiches and get the 7th free deal on the skinny banh mis.
Saigon’s Sandwich & Bakery is located at 718 East Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel, (626) 288-6475
BANH MI MY THO
Banh Mi My Tho is a very popular mom-and-pop shop that has tasty Vietnamese sandwiches. One of the drawbacks of this place is there is no sitting area. You order, move out of the way, take your food, and get out. What sets Banh Mi My Tho apart is that they put a lot of meat in their sandwiches. The meat is tender and juicy and is paired with just the right amount of veggies. Banh Mi My Tho also makes fresh egg rolls and grilled meatballs on a skewer. There’s also a small fridge on the side with some Vietnamese drinks and desserts. I personally like soft and fluffy baguettes. But if you like crispy bread then you’ll like Banh Mi My Tho. Be careful though, their bread is very crispy and can really scratch up your mouth.
Banh Mi My Tho is located at 304 W. Valley Blvd in Alhambra. (626) 289-4160
The baguettes from Ba Le are moist and soft. Their bread will not scratch the roof of your mouth. Ba Le’s duck liver pâté is straight-up addicting. You can even buy it home to spread on other items. The sandwiches are under $3 and there’s a generous portion of meat as well.
FYI: They have a buy five, get one free special.
Ba Le is located at 1426 South Atlantic Boulevard in Alhambra, (626) 308-3003
BANH MI & CHE CALI
Banh Mi & Che Cali is one of the largest Vietnamese sandwiches chains. Their sandwiches are pretty consistent no matter which location you go to. Quality and value-wise, you won’t be able to find a better deal or variety than at Banh Mi Che Cali. There are more than 11 different types of sandwiches to choose from on your choice of French bread ($2.75) or baguette ($2.50). They have great 2-for-1 specials and a huge dessert bar to drool over. Service is fast and there’s a big selection of different foods and snacks. Desserts are all buy two, get one free. Their drinks are also buy one, get one free. In addition to that, Banh Mi Che Cali also has an array of small dishes and pre-packaged plates ranging from $2-$5. They also carry pho, beef noodles, curry, and other quick meals here. There are locations in Rosemead, South El Monte, and Monterey Park.
Banh Mi & Che Cali is located at 8702 Valley Boulevard in Rosemead, (626) 288-9166
Mr. Baguette serves breakfast sandwiches and various combinations of ham, pâté, egg, and head cheese inside their baguettes. They also have a long list of regular bahn mi. The baguettes from Mr. Baguette are on the harder, crispier side, but their filling is good. You also have the option of getting your baguettes with sesame seeds. The sesame baguettes smell great and add extra flavor to the banh mi. The bread here tends to be on the harder, crispier side so be careful not to scratch your mouth.
Mr. Baguette is located at 8702 Valley Boulevard in Rosemead, (626) 288-9166
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kristie Hang is an avid world traveler that spends 3 months a year in Asia. She has an affinity for bizarre foods and is also the co-founder of the 626 Foodettes Blog, a hyperlocal food blog highlighting culinary options in the San Gabriel Valley. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.