Lately, my (very) significant other has been on a banh mi fix, a yearning for the Vietnamese sandwiches which combine meat and pickled vegetables on a baguette. A great banh mi is the perfect gestalt of crunchy and chewy, tangy and savory, sour and salty.
Unfortunately, there is not much choice of banh mi in the mid-city area. We enjoyed the grilled pork banh mi at Gingergrass and the sardine sandwich at Vietnam Soy Cafe, both in Silverlake, but we yearned for more.
So, on a recent trip to Orange County, we had to stop at an outlet of the famous banh mi chain, Lee's Sandwiches (We stopped at the Beach Blvd. location in Westminster, right off the 405).
This place had it all. Large, fresh baguettes, crunchy marinated veggies and a host of excellent fillings. We most enjoyed the chicken with it's big chunks of marinated bird and the creamy, livery pate but also enjoyed the BBQ pork with its thin slices of Chinese style char siu pork. Priced at an amazing $2.20 per sandwich, this may the best deal in Southern California.
Frustratingly, there are 12 Lee's in Southern California and not a single one within the LA city limits. The closest to my area of mid-City is probably the Alhambra branch. This is a commercial oversight bordering on the criminal. A Lee's would mop up in Koreatown...it's a guaranteed success. I mean, I would go three days a week and I'm pretty sure my SO would go five. Come on, if we can have 20 million shops dedicated to boba and tart frozen yogurt, the least we can get is a decent banh mi.
Most offensive is that the menu reveals a Lee's in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City gets banh mi but not LA??!! This is a massive offense and flies in the face of all that is right in the world.
For now, I will drive to get my banh mi, but please, Mr. Lee, go North and fill our empty Los Angeles baguettes with your love.