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Best Veggie and Fish Banh Mi in SJ

galleygirl | Jul 5, 200206:29 PM

In addition to the Dim Sum, I was on a Banh Mi quest for vegetarian, or semi-veg that I can't get back home.

I hit the food court at "Call Me Dragon" out at Tully and King, and window-shopped all the displays around the inner food court. For those hounds who haven't been, all the dishes are displayed like the food models in Japanese restaurants, (tho they're real), so it's great for Vietnamese Chow, 101..

Kim's Sandwiches (in the Mall, not the inner foodcourt) gets mentions here for their banh mi, but they had no veggie or fish options...They DID have large platters of appetizers and treats, like goi cuon and roasted pork and salad, ready for your next party or potluck.

CD Bakery, also in the mall, had a much larger selection of everything, and had a fish banh mi, made from some canned fish, larger than anchovies, and smaller than sardines, covered with a barbecue-like sauce...Their mayo was a little light on flavor, and they didn't use a lot of fish sauce..

The best banh mi I've ever had ended up being at Cali Sandwiches in downtown San Jose, 304 E.Santa Clara, on the corner of 7th Ave...It's a true hole-in-the-wall, with a bakery in back where they bake their own bread, probably everyone else's as well. (I think Rochelle McCune previously posted on it.)

In addition to the usual, they offer a Banh Mi Cha Ca, or fried fish patty...What you don't expect is the thin slices of ground fish pate, savory and salty(in a good way!), redolent of black pepper and crisp on the outside...Get it with everything!

I really couldn't decide if that, or the Banh Mi Chay was my favorite. Translated as "Vegetarian", that doesn't begin to describe the jerky-like strands of tofu, in a sweet and hot sauce that had me checking for a second that I hadn't grabbed the barbecue pork I bought for my friend. The texture was wonderful and chewy, the sauce reminiscent of the mixture used on dried cuttlefish at some Korean places. I think I would ask for extra Nuoc Cham on both..Is that less a California thing than it is in Boston?

I tried to gather info for a full report, but my friend, the non-hound, when asked for his opinion of the barbecue pork, only said, "I'm eating it, aren't I?" he didn't understand the "compare and contrast" concept.

For the record, it was 1/4 inch thick slices of juicy-looking pork, with no visible barbecue sauce. For the record, he did ask for another the next day..I think I accidently got a roasted pork, which looked like it had crispy skin on it...Their chicken was shredded. He ate them all.

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