A group of four of us decided to hit up a few banh mi shops around SE Powell today. Since Best Baguette had the largest parking lot, we figured that we'd all meet there and then carpool.
We started at Best Baguette, and the smell of durian hit me immediately after walking in, which I actually quite liked. I was also a fan of their Hong Kong style milk tea. We ordered three sandwiches, the combination (dac biet) the xiu mai meatball, and the Saigon bacon. My favorite here was the bacon, and one diner noted how she enjoyed the bread as it wasn't overly crusty and hard to eat.
Next stop was Binh Minh. I was quite pleased to find nem chua in the deli case, a sort of fermented version of the usual nem sausage you find grilled (in that case, it would have been called the more familiar nem nuong). Again, we ordered the combination and the meatball, and our third was the grilled chicken. The bread improved over Best Baguette, but it was certainly a lot crustier and harder. I really enjoyed the house mayo used in the sandwiches, too.
Our final stop was An Xuyen. This was the smallest shop, but had the best bread, and their baking prowess was evident in the variety of pastries they had on display. We again ordered the combination and the meatball, and the grilled chicken.
My ideal sandwich would be to use the An Xuyen bread, the house mayo of Binh Minh, and whatever fillings from Best Baguette. An Xuyen felt more like a proper bakery and less like a fast food joint compared to the other two (Best Baguette, in fact, has a drive thru). Best Baguette has the largest menu, and is the most convenient on all accounts.
An Xuyen Bakery
5345 Se Foster Rd, Portland, OR
Binh Minh Sandwiches
7821 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97206
8308 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97266