I didn't believe it when I saw it at first. Driving past what I thought was the Boba World tea shop on Westwood (right beside Noodle World) I became suddenly disoriented.
What? East-West Sandwiches? Is that a....
The traffic ahead of me moved. I craned my neck as the auto sputtered up to 15 miles per. The traffic jolted to a halt, my eyes flicked forward. Accident narrowly avoided, but my eyes had failed to get a decent fix. Target NOT acquired.
Had my eyes deceived me? Through the glaring glass, had I seen a Mr Lee-style long counter and highlighted overhead menu? Were those pictures of cilantro-sprouting baguettes by the door? Was that a "Cash only, no credit cards" sign underneath?
All the signs looked good. I thought of finding a parking space (yeah right).
But I was late for my appointment at the UCLA Med Center anyway (none of your business, pal).
So I went back today.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?
Banh Mi dac biet sandwiches in the middle of Westwood village for 2.95?
Diem Hoang and I exchanged glances. Only one explanation - they must suck.
Except that they don't.
Banh Mi Bac Biet, with everything you'd expect from a banh mi down Westminster way - baguette soft, but with crusty outer, stuffed with sliced meats and pate, brimming with pickled veg and topped off with the requisite slices of chilli and springs of cilantro.
But with a couple of twists
1. comes with a few hefty slices of lemongrass-grilled beef (yowser - I'm sure you could ask them to leave it out if you're a purist, but I rather LOVED it)
2. It's about 30% longer than your average Mr Lee's or Ngo Saigon bakery special.
Banh Mi Cha Lua
Diem Hoang, who is incredibly difficult to please, gave this the thumbs up, and later pronounced it BETTER THAN WHAT SHE GETS IN WESTMINSTER!
East-West is actually part of Noodle World (maybe Boba World was too, I never went in) and you can still get boba there, if you must.
They have this incredible list of sandwiches - only four of which are called "Vietnamwiches" They have Phillipinewiches, Thaiwiches , Indiawhiches, etc etc, with things like penang curry or spicy salmon in a baguette. You get the picture. I have no idea what these taste like. Some of them sound awful, or absurd, or both, but I can certainly recommend the two Vietnamwiches we had. Next I'll try what looks like the equivalent of thit nuong, the meat being the aforementioned lemongrass beef.
Not much of a gamble - for less than three bucks, you can't go wrong, I reckon.
Oh, and yes there is room to eat in. Quite a nice place, actually.
But good luck finding parking. As always.