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Recession Obsession: Banh Mi, Vietnam’s Sandwich

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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.

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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!

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