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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Banh Mi Cho Cu: Finally Found a Good One

I admit I'm no connoisseur of Little Saigon. It's far and I don't speak or read Vietnamese so my knowledge is limited by the rants and raves of message boards and personal referrals. But when I had a meeting down there recently, I duly put in my diligence to work so we could make a pit stop to treat ourselves. I am severely deprived of good banh mi up in LA and South Bay, so it was such a pleasant surprise when the one I chose from a list of like 10 turned out to be quite good.

Banh Mi Cho Cu is in a mini-mall in Westminster that I wouldn't have noticed if not for my scribbled address and directions from the previous evening's research. I purposely chose one that was less commercial, more mom-and-pop, hole in the wall, you get the idea.

And I wasn't disappointed. We got a total of 15 sandwiches with some BBQ pork, chicken and vegetarian ones. The display of pastries was so irresistible that I got myself a pate chaud, which was like baked puff pastry with some ground pork. It hardly tasted like pate that I'm familiar with and I also wasn't able to heat it up, (chaud is hot in French) so maybe flavor was lost there too. I wouldn't get it again. But that BBQ pork was delicious. It was perfectly seasoned and charred. The works were fresh, spicy, crunchy all at once.
I love it when I find a new place that's this good and such good value to boot. If you get the mid-sized bread, which is big enough for one, you can get one free for every two you get. So the final bill was ridiculous to say the least.

Just as we were leaving, a woman behind the counter brought out these fresh-out-of -the-fryer dessert rolls with bananas in them. She talked us into getting four, at a discount, of course. These were the highlight for me. I had these before I even bit into my sandwich because they were piping hot and I knew temperature could make or break this dessert, especially since it was deep fried.

Crunchy, then soft, then sweet and creamy -- in short, everything you want in a dessert. And I don't even have a sweet tooth! It was a great dessert-cum-appetizer to my main meal of banh mi. Must try the chicken one next time. My only beef with the baguettes, which were fresh and good (although not like Bouchon good), was that they smelled too much like butter. I wouldn't normally consider that a liability but I do when the bread smells not like quality butter but cheaper butter. Like I wouldn't go there to pick my weekly dose of baguettes, but I would go to get my banh mi and deep-fried banana rolls fix any day.

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