Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Food

Recession Obsession: Banh Mi, Vietnam’s Sandwich

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.


A Pair of Lee's Sandwiches in Alhambra
The Official Recession has been upon us for thirteen official months. It’s still not a reason we can’t enjoy life. This is LA -- we’ve got plenty of cheap options! We last ate our way up and down the Red Line for a few bucks plus Metro fare. Today we'll head East... again.

The French colonization of Indochina had its pros and cons. Today we'll look at the cheapest, tastiest pro: Banh Mi, Vietnam's Sandwich. For less than $3 you can munch on a terrific sandwich that's a little bit Europe and a little bit Asia. You guessed it. Banh mi is LAist's latest Recession Obsession.

Found in different corners of Los Angeles, banh mi is nowhere at home as it is in the San Gabriel Valley. Lee's Sandwiches always does the trick. This Northern California chain has a cluster of eateries in the SGV, as well as Orange County. These sandwiches are all priced to move, and are sizable, on 10" baguettes.

Support for LAist comes from

Expect to find a nice, light dressing, and pleasing greens on your banh mi. Cilantro, jalapenos, carrots, cucumber, daikon. Pate is common too, though it's more a palate-pleasing lubricant than primary sustenance. A variety of pork and chicken Vietnamese coldcuts serve as popular ways to occupy your banh mi, as well.

Don't fret vegetarians. Lee's has a seriously heaping banh mi awaiting you. It features tofu, vermicelli and yams. Mmm.

  • Another Option: Monterrey Park’s Mr. Baguette. The formal sandwichmaker is another LAist favorite.

Thirsty? Lee's Coffee (cafe sua da,) is Vietnamese French press coffee with condensed milk. This guilty pleasure is of exemplary caloric density. It's not a WeightWatchers Obsession. Not even close.

This is a Recession Obsession where I won't yell at you for ordering another round. Despite your credit card debt, and suffering stock portfolio, you can order seconds. Prepare to loosen the belt. If you order thirds, your issues are beyond finance.

Lee's has a drive through, but save the gas guzzling you'll do while idling and go inside. Be careful of your money. It's a Recession out there. Sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

  • Recession Obsession Post-Banh mi Option:The $15 Massage. They're in the same neighborhood.

Photos by Caleb Bacon for LAist

Where do you get your banh mi? What do you like on it? Comment below!