Little Saigon Banh Mi Bender

Neighborhood Sign Orange County

Over 200,000 Vietnamese people live in and around Little Saigon, which includes parts of Garden Grove.

“No giggling. We’re on a mission.” Christine made it clear that the four of us still had plenty of work to do before we could crown the best banh mi in Little Saigon. We were only on Stop Three, with three more Vietnamese sandwich shops to invade. We based our Little Saigon banh mi bender on Amy Scattergood’s November round-up in the LA Times. Overall, we consumed ten sandwiches, three pate chaud, three pastries, six drinks and one meatball skewer. This post is the product of our “research.”

#1: Tip Top Sandwiches, 14094 Brookhurst Street, Garden Grove, 714 530 9239

Banh Mi Little Saigon
We arrived at this sprawling café at 10 AM to find a packed patio, a line that never shortened and a dinging Keno screen. We split two sandwiches constructed with supple, crackly house-made baguettes. BBQ Pork (Thit Heo Nuong – $3.45) was scintillating, with caramelized strips of pork, julienned daikon and carrot. Pate Meatball (Pate Xiu Mei – $3.25) hosted crumbly pork meatball, aioli, cucumber, cilantro, carrot and onion. The meat could have been warmer and the mayo was too creamy, but the overall effect was good. Two of us downed Vietnamese iced coffees. After all, banh mi is often considered breakfast food.

Banh Mi Little Saigon
In back, Tip Top featured a case of flaky pastries known as pate chaud ($1 each), filled with either pork or chicken. We ordered the version filled with a juicy patty of onion-studded pork.

Banh Mi Little Saigon
Behind the pate chaud case, we spotted a rack of fresh-baked baquettes, which move quickly due to the high volume. Overall, it was easy to see why Tip Top was packed. Scattergood reported that Tip Top’s owners are planning a branch for Rosemead, and it will instantly become the best banh mi emporium in the San Gabriel Valley.

#2: Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie, 14352 Brookhurst Street, Garden Grove, 714 418 9098
Banh Mi Little Saigon
This strip mall bakery featured music and vibe befitting Paris. Unfortunately, the food held little charm. Our banh mi contained flimsy fillings and came on thick, hard bread that shredded the roofs or our mouths. Grilled pork ($3.25) amounted to fatty, chewy pork and misshapen clumps of carrot and daikon. Special Pork (pate, ham meatloaf – $2.95) offered little flavor, even with jalapeno and aioli. After ordering, we spotted a rotisserie cooking small chickens, which probably would have improved the sandwich, but no filling has the power to overcome that bread.

Banh Mi Little Saigon
Thankfully, we found some redemption near the register in the form of Chouquette (3 for $1), airy puffs of hollow pastry lined with oversized sugar granules.

After we left Boulangerie Pierre, Christine said, “We need to raise our spirits…That place scared me, literally, with the bread.”

#3: Gala Bakery, 14570 Brookhurst Street, Westminster, 714 775 7327
Banh Mi Little Saigon
Tiny Gala Bakery didn’t have a single seat, but it did deliver a decent baguette and some of the day’s best fillings. Special Sandwich ($2.75) contained slices of Pate and Pork Paste, plus market-fresh aioli, carrot and daikon. Gala’s triangular pate chaud wasn’t as greasy or peppery as Tip Top’s version. Therefore, it didn’t have as much flavor.

Banh Mi Little Saigon
To drink, I enjoyed a delicious Green Bean Shake ($2) that probably glowed in the dark, but featured a pleasantly gritty texture and a syrupy sweetness.



Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

tip top is def. one of our faves in Little saigon

Oh my gorsh….so tasty. My only regret is that I am so rarely in Garden Grove for work this year.

It’s worth driving to Little Saigon at least once a month, whether you have business there or not. That’s one of the most exciting eating areas in the country, and there are always new options.

Thanks. By the fifth stop, I was in pain, and by Tastea, I was ready to curl up into the fetal position. Still, it was a great learning opportunity to have sandwiches from six straight places.

nice round up! sounds like a huge brunch/lunch.

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