There's a hole-in-the-wall banh mi place in San Francisco that the Sergeant likes, but we missed the ferry and opted for Oakland instead. Cam Huong gets mixed reviews on Yelp, but we were quite pleased with the place. It's a tiny, narrow space, with a display of deep-fried goodness in the front window, a long counter packed with extra snackage, and a handful of booths in the back.
There was a steady stream of customers in and out, even mid-afternoon on a Monday. I got some ribbing for taking photos until I explained that I was looking forward to seeing how their banh mi compared with Denver's.
The guy behind the counter (whose name I should have asked!) told us they've been there for 23 years. His grandmother is/was friends with the original owner of the Ba Le franchise. His grandma stuck with restaurants (they have four), while her friend went into making wholesale ingredients (including headcheese!) and franchising. Some of Cam Huong's ingredients come from Ba Le wholesale, but they also have their own bakery up the street, so the rolls are fresh.
We couldn't wait to take a bite of our large sandwiches! They are about 8 inches long compared with the usual 6. The Sergeant got the curried tofu sandwich:
While I opted for the barbecued pork:
The sandwiches are heavy on the vegetables, which I like. If you prefer meatier, you can ask to double up on it. I got mine without jalapeños, but I should have taken them anyway and given them to the Sergeant. I do like the little bit of bite they add for having been in the sandwich briefly.
On the way out I help my camera up and snapped the security mirror:
Parking in the neighborhood can be tricky, but it's worthwhile to find a spot and do a little exploring in the Chinatown shops while you're there. Or you can have a friend circle the block while you get some banh mi to go.
Give it a try!
920 Webster St
(between 10th St & 9th St)
Oakland, CA 94607
7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily