Banh Mi, a sandwich that grew from almost seven decades of French colonialism in Vietnam, has a lasting legacy. Proteins vary, but other core ingredients typically include pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeños, cilantro, mayo, and a crusty baguette. In the past, I’ve also enjoyed Magic Meatball Banh Mi at 4505 Meats’ Ferry Plaza Farmers Market stall, and Salumeria’s banh mi-inspired Coppa di Testa sandwich. Hopefully those sandwiches resurface. In the meantime, learn about seven other delectable Bay Area banh mi sandwiches.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
1. B. On The Go
Chef Belinda Leong, who found sweet success with B. Patisserie, opened this sandwich shop (with bonus sweets) on the opposite corner. A glass front shields floral black and white tiles, reclaimed wood, a steel counter displaying house baked breads, and bright yellow rotisserie oven in an open kitchen. Leong’s Banh Mi ($8) features luxurious slabs of pork belly, cucumber, jalapeño, crunchy pickled carrots and daikon on a soft roll.
2. Banh Mi Ba Le
This grab-and-go Vietnamese spot on Oakland’s International Boulevard, a street most famous for taco trucks, has been going strong for almost two decades. The family who runs Banh Mi Ba Le comes from Saigon and sells all sorts of colorful snacks and drinks, including pennywort and sugar cane juice, avocado and durian shakes, and crispy cha gio. Chewy baguettes cradle #8 Grilled Pork Sandwich – banh mi thit nuong – pork belly marinated with garlic, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Cucumber, jalapeño, pickled daikon and carrot and a healthy amount of cilantro join the fun. #13 Meatball and Egg Sandwich – banh mi xiu mai opla – features a peppery pork crumble and adds mayo to the mix. #19 BBQ Pork Patties – banh mi nem nuong – features firm, peppery slices. Other options include sardines, roasted eel and sour pork.
3. Café Bunn Mi
This Inner Richmond restaurant sports a brown awning and contains bright red and light green walls, indoor plant-life, and an older woman cooking to Lil Wayne’s rapping. Sandwiches all feature thick, slightly chewy house bread and include onions, pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño, and homemade aioli. Five Spice Chicken ($4.50) features juicy grilled chicken, rich slathered pate and house-made caramel sauce. I was also impressed with Crispy Duck ($6.50), lightly breaded duck layered with crunchy Vietnamese cole slaw.