Wednesday, December 21, 2011

80 North: El Cerrito, Banh Mi Ba Le

update 10-31-14

Banh Mi Ba Le 10174 San Pablo Ave./Central, (510) 528-8882. Daily 8-6; $3-$3.25/sandwich. Cash only.  This tiny strip-mall take-out spot has only one table inside plus two outside. The specialty is super delicious, cheap Vietnamese sandwiches that consist of a large crispy sandwich roll (made so crunchy by using a combination of wheat and rice flour), a choice of stuffing.  They are spiced with chili pepper and fluffed with cucumber slices, shredded carrots, and cilantro.  Of the ten choices, I favor the #7 (very red barbecued pork) and the #5 (meatballs that seem more like unstuffed sausage), but bacon and tofu veggie ham are also among the possibilities. I thought the sandwiches must be quite small since they are each around $3, and so I ordered two. Big mistake for one person, since these sandwiches measure almost 12 inches, but I just took the extra one home and ate it the next day. To order, just get in line and choose your filling. Several other enticing take-out items are available, and some unusual drinks are in the fridge. Try to refrain from eating in your car because you’ll wind up with a lot of crumbs.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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