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Banh Mi

Lee's Sandwiches - good banh mi finally

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Lee's Sandwiches - good banh mi finally

Alice Patis | Feb 9, 2006 12:14 PM

Lee's Sandwiches is a chain of banh mi shops in California, Arizona & Texas (not to be confused with a local chain in SF called Lee's Deli). I sometimes have meetings at San Jose's new City Hall, across the street from a Lee's Sandwiches. I've gotten banh mi from there, other San Jose locations, and also in Orange County. Each time I've always had pretty bad banh mi and I get so mad that such a bad example of banh mi is proliferating across the country. It's also a bit pricier than most shops, $2.75 for most of the choices, and extra if you want pate.

Yesterday I finally got a good banh mi at Lee's. Actually, just the literal banh mi, the bread, was good. The rest was just ok. But I've badmouthed Lee's so much that I figure I should post. Lee's uses the thin long baguette cut into sections (not the more classic mini baguette rolls). They bake on the premises, but this must have been the first time in the 10 or so visits to any Lee's where I've had bread that wasn't stale or teeth-breakingly chewy. I finally figured it out: Only if you go during the peak of the lunch rush hour, when the line to pick up banh mi is practically out the door, you'll get fresh bread. Also maybe if you go when they open at 6. Otherwise, I think their bread gets stale or tough very quickly.

Their fillings are still skimpy though. Not enough meat to spread over the whole thing, daikon/carrot shreds are thickly cut but not much of them, and 2 tiny stalks of celery. They do add extra jalapenos if requested (otherwise you get only 1 or 2 pieces).

I still like the other local banh mi shops much better, but at least Lee's isn't always bad.

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