Friday, February 01, 2008

I love me some bánh mì

I recently started reading the blog of White on Rice Couple and discovered that they are also part of a site about bánh mì, or Vietnamese sandwiches. There's a directory of banh mi places around the U.S., but for local listings it only has Vinh Xuong Bakery listed, and no reviews. So guess what I had to pick up on my way to work?

The bakery is the first place I had bánh mì, which I'd read about in one of John Thorne's books. I was in an Asian grocery and asked if they had them. "Next door!"

The bakery is a little hole-in-the-wall place, and there's nothing to indicate they sell sandwiches. "Bánh mì?" I asked and got the reply: "How many?" Um, one?

So the lady goes in back and makes me a sandwich. Darn good one, too, with pâté and sausage filling, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber, jalapenos and mayonnaise. And fresh cilantro. Very crusty French roll. The cost? $2. Yes, TWO dollars.

I was hooked.

I've been back to the bakery many many times, but that's not where I went today, mainly because of traffic logistics. Today I went to Ba Le, which is part of a chain, I think.
I started going there when a Vietnamese cow-orker told me about it. He said he likes the bread there better, and the variety of fillings you can order (instead of the complete lack of choice at Vinh Xuong).
But I have mixed feelings about Ba Le. The sandwiches are tasty, and yes, the bread is a little softer, but it doesn't quite have the charm of the bakery, nor the fabulous treats you can get for dessert.
You can pick up some spring rolls, assorted sausages and pâtés, and a rainbow of ... something. I have no idea what this is. I would've asked, but had to get to work and didn't want to get into a lot of conversation.
Plus, the gal behind the counter seemed a little freaked out that I was taking pictures. "I want to show my friends," I told her.

You're my friends, right?
So here's my BBQ pork sandwich with iced coffee. Yummy. The sandwich is $2.50. The coffee, too (which I think is overpriced, but I can't resist it).

Ba Le is at 1044 S. Federal. It's in a strip mall on the east side of the street, just north of Mississippi.

Vinh Xuong Bakery (which I'll post about with pictures another day) is in the Far East shopping center at 375 S. Federal (the shopping center with the pagoda over the entrance to the parking lot, just south of Alameda). The bakery is in the back left corner (i.e. southwest) as you enter the parking lot from Federal.

If you're in Denver, go get you some banh mi!


  1. This post is right on the money! The pictures really convey the tastiness of the banh mi and all the other great tasty treats you can get at these shops. A $2 sandwich in Denver is not bad. It's actually cheaper there then it is here in Southern California. That's not fair !!! There's more of us Viet's in CA !

  2. Everything's more expensive in California, it seems! Glad you liked the post. I'll try to leave a review on your site later.

  3. I think there are a couple of places in your neck of the woods that sell them! Time for a little field trip?

  4. I haven'thad a good bahn mi in a loooong long time. I need to find a way to get my bahn mi fix!

  5. Oh. Yum. Please, for me? I was thinking about you Saturday when I had Cletus out for lunch. There was a woman photographing just about everything in sight(not people, just food and walls and wine bottles and such)and nobody so much as blinked.

  6. I have totally been there. Delicious. The baguette makes it.

    I think it's the best in Denver.

  7. Hi Phil! Do you know of any other places here besides the bakery? If you haven't been there, you should try it. Their pastries are great, especially the sesame balls.