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14 May, 2007
The Mighty Banh MiIf you want to try the Vietnamese french sandwiches called banh mi (pronounced bahn mee) and plan to buy just one, don't. You'll be sorry. One sandwich is just not enough.
I learned that lesson when I bought some from My Le, a little hole in the wall fast food joint in the Cambodian/Vietnamese enclave of Anaheim Street.
I've heard that Lily Bakery has the best banh mi outside of Westminster's Little Saigon, but they just closed for the day when I got there, so I settled for My Le across the street. Considering the giveaway price of $1.75 to $2.00 each, I was a bit skeptical of the taste, but they make them fresh to order so I didn't mind finding out.
They were out of the barbecued pork so I opted for the $2.00 special filled with a variety of deli meats and the usual banh mi condiments: pickled carrots, daikon and cucumber, fresh cilantro, a touch of mayo plus the optional diced jalapeno for some heat.
And what a sandwich it was. This was my first banh mi so I have no point of reference, but the melange of savory, sweet/tart, spicy and pungent flavors that filled the fresh and crispy french baguette can make a Subway sandwich blush in shame. One yummy bite led to another and before I knew it, no more banh mi. "You should've bought more," said my brother wisely after he downed his last bite.
So I did. The following day I bought two more of the special and one of the barbecued pork. Since I bought three banh mis, I got another one for free. You read that right. Free. I put the money I saved to good use and bought some thai iced tea to go with the sandwiches.
The barbecued pork was good, although the meat wasn't as tender or sliced as thinly as I would've liked. Still, it was a satisfying meal for the price, which proves once again that one doesn't have to go broke to get decent eats in this town.
1287 E. Anaheim St.,
Long Beach, Ca 90803
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