A few months back I noticed that Corner Sandwich & Café was gone and being replaced by Bale. I then plumb forgot about it, until I recently passed the shopping center again and took a glance. It appears the place opens rather early so I dropped by for a Banh Mi.
The place looks somewhat cleaned-up, in a somewhat typical VN restaurant kind of way. Instead of hordes of men having coffees and smoking cigarettes in the place, there's now what looks like two outside tables and things seem a bit more quiet. Only 8-9 guys, wonder where the Vietnamese Coffee/Beer/Cards social club moved on to?
I simply ordered a Banh Mi Dac Biet to go ($4.50). It felt kind of hefty and it was......
I've been mostly going to those places that pretty much make their own banh mi these days, so the bread seemed a bit of a shock. It was fairly hard, mostly crust, and the bread hadn't held up well. At least it wasn't as mealy as I recalled the bread being at their other location in Mira Mesa. Man, those were some thick slices of meat! There was also a huge smear of pate on this; which pretty much dominated the entire sandwich. Also, the pickled carrots and daikon here are thicker cut, which I don't mind at all. This seemed really rustic and was quite filling.
A few weeks later, I was in the area at around 830am. I was a bit hungry, but instead of heading to one of my usual suspects, I drove a bit further up Mira Mesa Boulevard and ordered a Banh Mi Op La from Bale. Fewer guys hanging out in the front on this morning; probably because it was a Sunday.
This must be the most pickled vegetables I'd ever had in a banh mi! Good lord......also loved the jalapeno which was nice and spicy. The eggs were a bit past the point of what I prefer in my easy over egg banh mi, but it was still good. The sandwich was warm, almost hot to the touch when I was given it, so I thought the best move would be to have it here. The bread was nice; crusty/flakey exterior, the interior hadn't been turned to mush; it wasn't overly toasted, yet so nice and warm. This is comfort food.
Once the gentleman working the front saw that I was going to have my sandwich here; he brought me a glass of ice water; nice touch. The sandwiches here are a bit more filling than what I'm used to, but it's good to have another option in the area. There's a number of various items; like Banh Beo and various noodle dishes on the menu, so maybe I'll try one of those next time....or maybe I should just have the Banh Mi Op La.
Bale Sandwich & Deli 9005 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
I decided to drop by and grab a bite. The shop is fairly small, with a few tables off to one side and stacks of pastry receptacles lining the path to the counter.
Even though most of the containers were empty, that these were for grabbing take-out items like spring rolls, croissants, and various salad dishes. There was also a decent selection of VN coffee, boba, and smoothies as well. There was a stack of banh mi and baguettes in a basket to the side.
I gotta say, the folks working here were really friendly, though the turnaround for orders were a bit slow. The great thing I found out was that they bake their own bread here! Nice! Competition for Cali Baguette Express?
I decided to try the Dac Biet, the "special".
Priced a bit more expensive than other Banh Mi shops at $4.49, I was immediately aware that the sandwich was a bit more "hefty". Returning to the office, I noticed that there was a bit more meat in this. First things first, the bread here is more crusty than flakey and is on the chewy side. It also doesn't keep very long, getting almost rubbery after a short time....I'd find out that for myself when I bought a baguette during another visit. Paris Bakery currently makes my favorite bread for Banh Mi and even to have with cheese in San Diego.
And while I've always said that it's about proportion rather than fillings when it comes to Banh Mi, I really liked how this was put together; the amount of pate was perfect and the meats' especially the cha lua, which can be rather rubbery when sliced too thick was excellent. I thought the carrots and daikon weren't pickled enough to cut the richness of the meat and pate, though the jalapeno was nice and sneakily spicy. Typical stringy cilantro.
Pretty good sandwich overall, so a couple of days later I decided to return. Calvin was interested and decided to join me.
I love eggs in my Banh Mi and the menu said they make Banh Mi Op La ($3.49), typically fried eggs, but here they told me it was easy over. And when I opened the sandwich, you could tell by the mess it was!
Egg yolk oozed all over my paperwork, but that's ok. Initially, I thought they hadn't sliced the sandwich, but then I noticed it had been sliced 2/3 way through. I realize a lot of people are freaked out over runny egg yolk, but this was pretty good, if a bit messy. As a bonus, there was a nice thin slice of ham and a good smear of pate as well. As I ate this rather quickly, the bread held up pretty well.
Calvin ordered the Xiu Mai, the meatball, which, after many bad versions, I'm leery of, but he told it was better than average.
Having to work on a recent Sunday and wondering if three time's a charm , I decided to head over and get the Banh Mi Cha Lua ($3.99).
Nicely set-up sandwich, though the bread was a bit chewy and perhaps because it was Sunday seemed to be a bit on the stale side. Pickles were still a bit too mild for me, but like how thin they slice the cha lua and the amount of pate on the sandwich. The cilantro (I know folks tell me I'm kind of weird about that) had more leaves than stems this time around.
Overall, my three visits were satisfying. It's good to have another decent banh mi option in the area that makes their own bread. While I prefer the bread at Cali Express, I prefer the egg banh mi here. Also to note; if you order egg on a banh mi as an extra, it'll be fried well done, but you can tell them you want the egg easy over they'll do it for you. Be forewarned, it'll be quite messy. I think I'll check out the beef jerky papaya salad and perhaps some of the other dishes in the near future.
Banh Mi Bakery & Cafe 9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite H1 San Diego, CA 92123
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog with contributions about food consumed from various places under various circumstances. Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are relaxing today. Cathy is writing about her circumstances.
Yes, it is that time of year again. The President, Theme (Echoes of Success), Marching Bands and some float designs for the 128th Tournament of Roses parade were announced not long after the 126th Parade ended on January 1, 2016. Floats are in the beginning stages of being built and a "T-1" (first float road test of mechanics and maneuverability) of floats built by Phoenix Decorating Company (who built 22 of the 44 floats in the 2016 parade) was held on Saturday morning at 7 a.m.
Listening to traffic reports, an accident had the North 5 with all lanes closed, so The Mister and I left home before 5 a.m. and stopped at Tan Hoang Huong (THH) in Tustin, since we were there before 6 a.m. (when Cream Pan (our usual stop) opens). Located just West (under the 5) of Cream Pan, it is good place to grab a sandwich and other treats. I knew about it because of several posts on CC's blog.
We ordered two egg rolls (@65¢) and a pork pate chaud (85¢) to eat while we waited for our bahn mi to be prepared. Yes, that's a 'spam' and egg sandwich ($4.25).
Fresh items, great tasting. Not the same as K Sandwiches, but very good. THH 14081 Newport Ave Tustin, CA (714)731-1366 Open Mon-Sat 5 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Sun 7 am-4 pm website
We detoured around the accident (which blocked the North 5 for more than six hours) and arrived at the Road Test just after 7 a.m.
Raymond Street is the place. The floats were lined up. The Rotary International float is in a very basic stage. You can see exactly where the driver and spotter are seated. They are communicating via headsets, as they will during the parade. The spotter on the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs float is the lady to the left in the photo. She will be seated below the floor of that gazebo-like structure. The Kiwanis float is taking shape. The City of Alhambra float has a fire engine being driven by both a fireman and a fire dog... Lions Clubs International is celebrating 100 years of Service in 2017. I can tell this float will be even more magnificent once it is decorated.
There were more details, but you get the idea. We were off to our next stop, Copenhagen Pastry (again, I knew about it from CC's blog), located East on Colorado Boulevard. The truck (and a few cars) parked in front of the otherwise quiet street made the subtle storefront easy to find. The fresh selections were so tempting- yes, that's about everything offered- We bought a loaf of Rye bread ($6) the dense, chewy style, made with rye berries, sunflower and black flax seeds, a Spandauer ($1.95) flaky pastry topped with almond paste and custard and a slice of Kringle ($1.95) also filled with almond paste, custard and sugar. We will return.
We began heading home, stopped at a Super H-Mart for some items and then hit another accident prone area of the 91 freeway, exited and decided to stop at Burger Basket, which we have driven past during prior sidesteps from traffic. Order, pay, have a seat...watch the char grill happen. A double cheese burger- (charred to perfection)($5.49) Gosh, I haven't had such a great burger since Sima's. My semi-usual morning order of an egg sandwich with sausage ($5.89). Let me say, this was heavy and huge with unexpectedly large tasty breakfast sausages (skin slightly burned), a lot of egg and lettuce with tomato and mayonnaise. Burger Basket has been at this location since at least 2007 and again, wish we had stopped here sooner. We will be back.
Burger Basket 1058 West Sixth Corona, CA 92882 (951) 734-1331 Open 7 days 6:30-9:30 Website
It was a long morning and we were home before noon. I hope you are having a good weekend!
SuperNatural Sandwiches 7094 Miramar Rd San Diego, CA 92121
Another favorite that I hadn't been to in a while. They've now got a lunch special, a sandwich with fries and a drink.....don't quite remember the price as I was enjoying talking to the owner.
Crisp pork gyro.....just like Greece! Well seasoned, crisp, enrobed in a nice warm pita. The owner also gave me a little cup of a nice sauce which went well with the fries. I need to come here more often....it's cheaper than a flight to Athens.
Zgara Greek Grill 1730 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109
Best Donuts Bakery & Deli:
Heading to work early (530 am) with no time for lunch on my schedule. The solution? A stop at Best Donuts for the A la Mexicana.
Warm and fluffy bolillo, eggs, a smear of beans, gooey melted cheese, salsa, jalapenos (to wake me up), and tomato. What's not to like? I'm sure there are little shops like this everywhere....it's just a matter of finding them.
Best Donuts Bakery & Deli 4714 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
The nice folks here have put up their "Grand Opening" sign so I thought I'd drop by. There seems to have been a few changes to the menu from my previous visits, but the place looks like it's doing well. Nice change of pace for the area and heck, Faye seems to like the place. Not having much time, I took my El Cubano to go.
The sandwich seems to have a bit less meat than before, but in terms of proportion things went well together. The pork still has flavor and isn't "the other white meat", the Swiss cheese adds a nice milky flavor......and those pickles, well they add the acid and tartness to the sandwich. I do enjoy the plantain chips, which are sliced very thin, thus making it crisp. I need to head back to Embargo Grill for the Medianoche and compare.
Havana Grill 5450 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Cali Baguette Express - Convoy:
Banh Mi Trung is probably one of my favorite breakfast items....though perhaps I'd take a good noodle soup or natto gohan with egg ahead of it. Cali Express is an easy choice, they bake their own bread (though I think Paris makes a better baguette) and who can deny the wonderfulness of a fried egg sandwich with Maggi on it?
And don't forget about the sneaky jalapeno....now that'll wake you up, right? Again, it's about ratios and proportion to me......the pickled veggies, the fried egg, the light and airy bread, cilantro....you get the point, right?
Cali Baguette Express 4425 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
Baguette Bros soft opened to a bit of hype a couple of weeks ago. Since it was fairly close to work, I managed to visit a couple of times.
Located in the same strip mall as China Max, Xi'an Kitchen, et al, the menu features twists on Banh Mi, chickens wings, versions VN coffee and drinks, and some Craft Beer (too IPA heavy - not my favorite match for Banh Mi). For some reason this seems to be a Food Truck menu in a brick and mortar shop......after all the NRA (no, not that NRA - the National Restaurant Association) says that the latest trend is from Food Truck to Brick and Mortar.
I like the nice, wide open set-up, very much the norm in places that want to attract the demographic that would want "Fusion Vietnamese Sandwiches"
I decided to go straight for the coronary artery and went with the Belly Flop ($8). The sandwich took a while, which didn't bother me. First this is the soft opening period and systems are still being put in place. Second, it means that my sandwich is being prepped fresh.
As the name indicates, this is a pork belly based Banh Mi. First off, the bread is standard issue. Probably from Le Chef. Because of how "stuffed" the sandwich is, it didn't hold up too on the short 10 minute trip back to the office, the bread had gotten gummy and for some reason, even though it was toasted, wasn't crusty enough.
The amount of pork belly was quite generous and along with the "sweet chili sauce", which seemed like a hoisin based sauce seemed the biggest deviation on what you'd consider something other than a super-stuffed banh mi. The classic cucumber, pickled veggies, and cilantro were nicely done. I loved the jalapenos which helped to cut the sweetness of the sauce.
One complaint would be the belly skin, which, if not fried properly is like eating plastic.....a rather unpleasant surprise.
Things come bundled with Shrimp Chips.
I thought my sandwich was pretty good so a couple of days later I returned with Calvin. I just can't put away food like I used to so having Calvin along would mean we could try a variety of items. Plus, MrC, who is originally from the SGV, his wife from Little Saigon, has had his share of Banh Mi.
My favorite sandwich of the three I had was the "Broguette" ($6). Loved the pate in this, wish they had put jalapenos on it and gone a bit easier on the Maggi, or whatever sauce they used as it was on the salty side. The head cheese was really mild but added texture, as did the Cha Lua, and the bread did well minus the travel time to my desk. As a whole, this was pretty much all about the pate.
We also ordered the "Grasshogger" ($6) - basically a Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi.
Calvin and I had the same reaction upon taking a bite of this; "whoa....too much salt...too much lemongrass". It needed something to balance out the flavors. The pork was actually fairly moist.
There was one other item I wanted to try. The Fish Sauce Chicken Wings.
Calvin liked the rather large sized wings, whereas I'm more about skin to meat ratio. We both agreed that the wings were fried perfectly, but that there was too much fish sauce in this...again, making it a bit too salty. The garlic was good, not too bitter, but this had me missing Que Huong.
I was rather pleased with what BB offered (i.e. the menu), though the execution and flavors were not quite there. I am looking forward to visiting again after the Grand Opening period. Nice folks, service a bit slow, but that's to be expected as they get their systems down.
It's been a bust couple of weeks...running around means getting more than my share of sandwiches. This doesn't mean that you give up variety though as these three examples show.
Cali Baguette Express (Convoy):
It had been quite a while since I'd been to Cali Baguette Express. Instead of my usual Banh Mi Trung (egg banh mi), I ordered the Nem Nuong.
It was nice light, good proportion of ingredients. The best thing about the sandwich was the bread....it had just come out of the oven. Nothing like light, crisp, flaky, yeasty, warm, goodness....
Cali Baguette Express 4425 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
I recently had the chance to take a friend and colleague to lunch. She's from the Midwest so I always like to have her try something new. The last time it was Izakaya Sakura...this time, I thought SuperNatural Sandwiches would be a nice stop.....
And it was. We got my favorite, The Siren.
The place seems to have hit stride; the shrimp was plump and moist, it seems that they've ramped up the heat as this was quite spicy. The brioche, lobster style roll was nice; buttery, but not too greasy. The aioli had that nice hit of richness.
SuperNatural Sandwiches 7094 Miramar Rd San Diego, CA 92121
So....I have a category for Banh Mi and one for Cheesesteaks, so why not both in a post, especially since they're revisits, right?
So here goes.......
One of the good things about having to work on weekends....well, if there actually is a good reason for working on weekends is that I don't have to get in as early as on weekdays. I'm usually in by about 6am during the week, but heck, I'm working for love during the weekend so I'm going to sleep in a bit. And my choices are a bit better at 830 am than they are at 540am.
I love a good Banh Mi Trung for breakfast, so I stopped by for a nice egg banh mi.
The egg was nicely fried, the baquette, light, crisp, and warm, a touch of Maggi brought it all together with the pickled vegetables. I should have felt great, right? Well, not really, since when picking up my banh mi, I noticed the sign posted to the right.......
Spam Banh Mi??? Spam? Banh Mi? And an egg? Why didn't I see the sign before I ordered? I wasn't going to miss another chance at a Spam Banh Mi.......
Another week went by and another weekend of work. I went and got my Spam and Egg Banh Mi and brought it back to the office to eat.
In all honesty, the previous banh mi trung was better. The Spam wasn't browned enough, leaving it without a nice crisp texture. This was Spam Lite, heresy I say..... I mean, really, if you're going to blow your day's worth of nitrites and sodium on a canned meat product, you might as well go all the way. Also, something was not right with the bread on this day......you can just tell by the color, it was cold and doughy...definitely not the banh mi that I've come to expect from Cali Express.
Oh well.... While it looks like having to put in those weekend hours may be coming to an end, there's still a few more ahead for me. So maybe I'll give this another shot. Though Spam Lite......maybe not.
Cali Baguette Express 4425 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
I'd been hankering for a cheesesteak for several weeks. So on the weekend after Christmas, I talked the Missus into grabbing a bite and a beer at Monkey Paw. I'd really enjoyed the cheesesteaks on my previous visits. It's also a favorite of my buddy Candice, who spent part of her childhood in Philly...
So, what I get here is the Blairsteak. For some reason, the combination of sauteed onions and bell peppers, with the milky, melted cheese on a nice Amoroso makes this a favorite of mine.
I'm not the biggest fan of waffle cut fries and these weren't prepped well. Limp and dry, lacking any sort of crispness.
One of the reasons that I'd never brought the Missus here is because bread is on the Missus's do not eat list. And other than the cheesesteaks, I haven't found anything else particularly good. On my previous visit, I tried the chicken wings, which I didn't care for.....so this time, I went with the frenched pork shank item they call "Monkey Bones",
I'd had this before and thought it was decent......I went with the sauces on the side, which was a nice move as none of them were really interesting. The pork lollipops were dry and the interior cold. So now I've got to think of something else on the menu to get the Missus down here for my next cheesesteak fix. Though the Missus did say She enjoyed the "vibe", so maybe.....
Not much has really changed here. Older gentlemen gather, have coffee, chat....and do guys gossip? For lack of a better word, let's just call it that. It's the coffee culture of Vietnam translated here....mostly men, each with his group. Hey, it's almost like high school huh? I'm thinking that it is....only the topics of conversation have probably changed, or perhaps not?
What really motivated me to visit on this bright Sunday morning was a conversation I had with FOY("Friend of Yoso") YummyYummy. Her dad is a regular here so she really has a inside track on the food. She told me that the pork belly banh mi...Ba Chi had really improved over the last year or so. Pork Belly? I'm so there.....
As I walked from my car to Cafe Dore, guess who I see? It's YY's Dad! It was nice seeing him. it had been a while. I told him that the reason I was here.....his daughter's recommendation. He invited me to have coffee with his "group"....very nice, but I had errands to run and food to prep on this morning. He also told me the Ba Chi here is "famous"....
I couldn't wait to have at it. So I opened it eagerly upon arriving home. It's pretty interesting, even though the bread for the banh mi here are from the same source as every other place that doesn't make their own, it's usually pretty fresh and flakey.
The pork was rather thickly cut, not a bad thing, and very moist. The flavor was pretty good, mildly sweet, with a slight swiney flavor. YY had told me that's it's getting better and I'll agree with that.
The pickles are a lot sweeter here than what I remembered and there was some major "jalapeno roulette" going on, with some slices being very mild, but a couple of slices were just explosive. All in all, a nice sandwich, one that I'll return for.
The service was very typical Cafe Dore, guys still play on those "machines" in the back....middle aged guys....hmmmm. It was a nice sandwich for a sunny Sunday....I'd like to tell you the price, but YY's Dad somehow paid for it without me even knowing...... Sneaky, but very nice, it made my day. Make sure to thank your dad for me YY!
Having not set foot in this shop in about six years, I'd forgotten just how large the place was. There seemed to be so much open space. It's a far cry from the other location. Yes, I said other location. I recognized the older woman, who was always so chatty. She and the young woman making my sandwich, her daughter, were very talkative on this morning.
Apparently, they've been in need of much more space for a while now, so this location fills the gap. I was told that the other location will still be open, which I found odd since you can literally see the other Paris Bakery if you walk out to the street. Her son will be running that location, her daughter gets the new shop. I mentioned that parking....oh boy.....that triggered a discourse about how bad the parking situation is/was at that location. "People come in to buy a bread and spend two dollars, they walk outside a minute later to find a ticket on their car....it was bad!" No wonder those little old Vietnamese ladies would rush out of the place practically running me over. You don't mess with them; they're tough. In their hands, a simple baguette becomes a deadly weapon.
I ordered two sandwiches ($3.50/each) eating half of each for breakfast than lunch.
Starting with the Dac Biet. The bread for this sandwich was decently crusty and slightly bready as is standard for their baguettes. If you've had a Banh Mi from any shop that makes their own, you've either had it from here or Le Chef Bakery. It's still a bit more dense than I prefer, but not bad.
I'd forgotten that Paris tends to be somewhat heavy handed in the application of mayo at times, which was the case with this sandwich.
With regards to that most enjoyable game of jalapeno roulette....this one was pretty spicy!
There was a good amount of pickled vegetables, which were nice and crisp, though on the mild side. The meat was decent for a banh mi, except that it as ice cold. In terms of proportion, I thought it was good.
I also ordered the Jamon, which I thought was better than the "special" for a couple of reasons.
Apparently the young lady started on a new baguette for this sandwich as the bread was still warm when I got to work. It was nice and flaky/crusty and fairly light.
The amount of "Jamon" was on the small side and it was also very cold, but the flavors of the meat, pickles, cilantro, and pate blended pretty well together. All in all, a decent banh mi.
I actually thought the sandwiches here were better than I remembered. Which means I'll be returning soon. Heck, at the least you'll know that the bread is fresh...or should be fresh. I was told that both shops have the same hours, which means opening early, like around 5am and closing in the late afternoon as well.
Paris Bakery 4616 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
Now I've got to check out the Thanh Son Tofu in their new location! Stay tuned!
This is probably the only Banh Mi place in the area I haven't posted on. Mostly because I'm not the biggest fan of the place. But recently, I decided to just go ahead and give it a try again. For those that don't know Sau Voi Deli; it's the little shop inside the 99 Ranch Market structure.
The place is starting to look even more worn recently and the folks who run the place seemed to have aged a bit as well. Things don't go too quickly here, you just order and kick back and wait for your sandwich.
I ordered the Dac Biet just to get some feel of how they're making banh mi nowadays.
To be fair, the sandwiches are pretty hefty for the price ($3.75), the bread seemed pretty fresh and it was perfectly toasted....not toasted to bits where it shreds your palate.
There's a ton of pickled veggies as well, though I didn't care for the flavor.
I think you can tell the problem I had with this sandwich......man, it was so D-R-Y....really. The proteins had the texture of rousong, which I guess is ok if you like the stuff. And you may well like it that way, since I've been told by Kirbie that I'm the only person she knows of who doesn't like the stuff! It's also pretty flavorless. Look, I'm the first to say when there's too much mayo or spread on my banh mi, but this was just too dry. What mayo the sandwich had was spread over one thin line near the edge of the bread. Even the cilantro looked wilted....
Of course, being the glutton for punishment I am, in the spirit of fairness, I returned to try something else. This time the pork (cha lua) and shrimp (cha tom)cake banh mi ($4).
This time along with the bread, everything else seemed a bit fresher, but the cha lua, which has almost a light smokey flavor to my palate was like rubber and the cha tom, while decent, having a mild shrimpy flavor, this still didn't satisfy me.
I'm looking for a certain proportion of ingredients and flavors....I don't want a super-stuffed sandwich, just one that fulfills my sense of balance and this really didn't do it for me. I mean, they'll do a decent job of filling you up, but to me not much more. Kind of sad actually......
Sau Voi Deli 7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste 109 San Diego, CA 92111