Back in LA on business last week and noticed that Saigon Calimex market in Reseda has reopened (reopened a couple of months ago). Similar to the previous incarnation, with a small produce section, meat counter, frozen and dry goods. There are also banh mi and boba counters in the front, along with a pho/cha gio/goi cuon/etc. counter in the back.
Tried the banh mi twice this past week and was pleasantly surprised. It's the unbag-and-toast model rather than the newer-style on-site bakery model, but I have to say the baguette was still very good, with a nice crisp crust and substantial chew. In fact, I liked it more than the freshly-baked banh mi baguettes that I had a few days earlier in Rosemead (better than Baguette City, approaching Che Cali) and the freshly-baked one from Sandwich Express a few doors down.
I had the dac biet and the pork loaf cold banh mi. Both were very good, but a slight nod to the pork loaf (personal preference):
--bread: toasted, with a decently crispy-tender crust and almost buttery flavor and a good, solid chew (which is often missing from the airy, watery-tasting, feshly-baked units).
--meat: just the right proportion of meat to bread. Pate was good and provided the right amount of flavor boost and moisture without being overpowering or generating too many unwanted liver burps later.
--toppings: carrot and daikon shreds, cilantro, jalapeno and very thinly sliced cucumber.
--service: slow, but thorough and very friendly. The girl at the cash register doubles as the sandwich artist. It takes a little extra time, but the result is worth it (and her winning smile doesn't hurt).
They also had a number of other assorted snacky items at the banh mi counter. I tried the banana cake. Tasted like a banana bread with a hint of coconut milk and a crispy crust. Really quite good.
Oh well, back to the rural, chow-less wastelands of Colorado. The memories of six banh mi, three pate chaud, nine fish/shrimp tacos, two pad kee mao, one pork and nopales plate, four orders of dumplings, three cakes of luobuogao, two baozi, and two orders of assorted cold meze from alcazar will have to hold me for the next month 'til I return.
It was a good chow week.
Saigon Calimex Food for Less
18525 Sherman Way (nr. Reseda Blvd.), Reseda