A Weekend in Little Saigon - Delectable Meatball and Cold Cut Banh Mi Sandwiches (Ba Le Westminster), Refreshing Cococane, Steaming Beef Noodle Soups, Crunchy & Silky Rice Cakes and Vietnamese Ice Coffee (Phin Smith) [Thoughts + Pics]

So thrilled! Thanks for the recon mission, @Chowseeker1999!
I have been craving banh boc loc la and some DIY banh mi at home. I know where I’m headed next weekend!
The Ba Le folks are so nice! Try asking if they can do a yolky egg inside any of their sandwiches.
With regards to reheating BBH, I would get home and reheat just the broth until it simmers. Build your bowl with the noodles and accoutrements before pouring in the hot broth. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do in pinch. For folks who get pho to-go, have them leave your pho noodles raw. You can use a mesh strainer to hydrate/cook them at home as you reheat the broth. I learned this from my Mom growing up…before she tried a hand at making pho herself…FYI, she found it to be too much work and went back to getting takeout pho. She refuses to use the InstantPot she asked me to get her two Christmases ago.

P.S. I grew up eating New Duong Son BBQ. Many crispy pigs have catered our family meals. If you enjoyed the BBQ pork, I would also suggest asking for a cup of sauce to take home…it’s great to douse over some fresh rice…maybe add some pickled mustard greens for acidity and crunch. It’s been a while, but we switched over of Lien Hoa over the years.


Nice visit!!

I mine as well say it Little Saigon Ba Le is the best Banh Mi shop in LS, when you consider all things, they make everything!! Also of note you can also buy their mayo and pate to go


WOW!! That’s quite the spread still at New Duong Son BBQ!! Glad they are still open and bringining it! Sad about CocoCane. One of the last things we did was take a Little Saigon Tour with friends for Bahn Xeo. We hit Cococane in the middle of the trip and it was a dream! Looking forward to heading back after all this.


Hi @attran99,

Thanks for the tip on reheating Bun Bo Hue! I’ll try that next time. :slight_smile:

And I definitely want to try the Egg Banh Mi next time at Ba Le. And great tip on how to best enjoy Pho to go. :slight_smile:


Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Thanks again for all the great recs. :slight_smile: I really hope Cococane is OK.

What’s your favorite sandwich at Ba Le Westminster? Thanks. :slight_smile:

Where did you go for Banh Xeo?

We went to

Thahn Ha

La Xanh


Overall, La Xahns was better… But I liked Thahn Ha a lot because it was so crisp. Both were better than Brodard to me… my previous favorite.


Thanks @Dommy @JeetKuneBao.

Is there a go to flavor for Banh Xeo you’d recommend?

I think Pork and Shrimp is the most popular. For me really it’s not so much the pork and shrimp but the actual crepe, herbs, fish sauce/chilli sauce, and freshness that I enjoy. In Little Saigon, Quan Mii is kinda the place now for Banh Xeo, you can do it traditional with everything wrapped in lettuce or roll everything up in a roll


Thanks @JeetKuneBao! Can’t wait to try this. :slight_smile: Also, I noticed Google says there are 2 Quan Mii restaurants?

Which one do you recommend I go to?

I haven’t been to the new one in Fountain Valley but I been to the Bolsa one.

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My cousins and I go to the Bolsa one, too.

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Bolsa for sure!

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Update 4 (To-Go):

Our previous trip to Little Saigon during the pandemic reminded us of even more mom & pop places we were hoping to support during this shutdown, so we headed back. :slight_smile:

Ba Le Sandwiches (Westminster) (Revisit)

Ba Le Sandwiches in Westminster stunned us when we visited them for the first time recently, putting out some of the best Banh Mi Sandwiches we’ve ever had. We wanted to go back and show some support.

On this visit, we noticed the rotating oven (with a see-through glass door) was off, and no customers were inside.

#7 - Banh Mi Xiu Mai (Pork Meatball Sandwich):

Ba Le’s Xiu Mai (Pork Meatballs) are only a touch sweet (thankfully), with a fresh, tender, moist Meatball filling. :slight_smile: I think we prefer Banh Mi Cho Cu more for a more balanced savory, barely any sweetness, delectable Xiu Mai, but these are probably our 2nd favorite, as many Banh Mi Xiu Mai we’ve had at other places around town are way too sweet.

Their Housemade Bread on this visit was a bit soft(!), fresh tasting, but lacked any crispness.

#1 - Banh Mi Thit Nguoi (Cold Cuts Sandwich) + Bi (Shredded Pork Skin):

Their #1, the Banh Mi Thit Nguoi (Cold Cuts) Sandwich, add Bi (Shredded Pork Skin), was perfect! :heart:

Their Housemade Bread was toasty-crisp, with a light crunch to the exterior, the various Vietnamese Cold Cuts within were all balanced and fresh tasting, a smear of Pate, the Bi (Shredded Pork Skin) added textural contrast and some porkiness, and the fresh, bright crunchiness from the Carrots, Daikon and Jalapeno and Cilantro. Our favorite Banh Mi Cold Cut Sandwich by far! :heart:

#6 - Banh Mi Trung (Egg Sandwich):

Strangely, on this #6 Egg Sandwich, their Housemade Baguette was soft again. It tasted fresh, but not crisp like the #1 Cold Cuts Sandwich. I’m not sure if this is Ba Le’s style, or perhaps they ran out of their more crisped Baguettes, but the Banh Mi Trung we’ve had at places like Saigon Bakery, Banh Mi My Tho, etc. have all been using the same bread (slightly crisped exterior). (@Ns1 @attran99 @hppzz and others.)

Still, the Egg within was hot, freshly fried and put in, but we would’ve liked the Yolk more runny / Sunny-Side Up style.

One of the most heartbreaking conversations we had with one of these local mom & pop shops was asking the mom (and solo employee on this visit) how business was. Her face became sullen and sad, and she said, “It’s very hard.” :cry: It’s difficult to convey in words the look on her face, but just spending a few minutes chatting with her, it was clear how difficult it must’ve been.

When she apologized to us, asking if it was OK to charge us $1 more because the price of Eggs she was getting was more expensive now, we immediately obliged and said, “No problem.” We left a generous tip.

Ba Le Sandwiches (Westminster) is putting out some of the best Banh Mi that we’ve tried in LA and OC, and the owner was selling them at a bargain at $3.68. :frowning: I can almost hear the cries on our old board now, of people complaining that Banh Mi should be given away Buy 1 Get 1 Free or something like that. :frowning:

From a previous FTC conversation, as @hppzz @attran99 @Ns1 @JeetKuneBao and others have stated, why should Vietnamese food be deemed “overpriced” if a mom & pop shop dared to charge more than absurdly low prices? The culinary joy we’ve received from a bowl of Ngu Binh’s incredible Bun Bo Hue, or this seemingly simple Banh Mi Sandwich (the #1 + Bi is ridiculous), etc., is so disproportionate to the price charged by these places (e.g., Ngu Binh’s wonderful Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is $8.95, Ba Le’s Sandwiches are $3.68). Will these mom & pop places survive the pandemic with reduced customers at these prices?

I really hope so. We’ll be back to support them as often as we can. :frowning:

Ba Le Sandwiches
9152 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (714) 891-9424

Mia Juicery (Revisit) - CLOSED

With Cococane being closed during the pandemic (although thanks to the tip from @JeetKuneBao that they are going to re-open late May), we were craving some Sugarcane drinks and decided to stop by another favorite, Mia Juicery.

Sadly they are CLOSED :frowning: (@JeetKuneBao):

Hopefully they can survive this pandemic and re-open when it’s safer for them.

Mia Juicery
9084 Edinger Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Tel: (714) 574-0853

Pho Tau Bay L.T.T. (Revisit)

Thankfully Pho Tau Bay LTT is open during the pandemic!

Banh Cuon Dac Biet (Steamed Rice Paper Cake with Meat Inside and Dry Pork Topping):

Pho Tau Bay’s Banh Cuon (Steamed Rice Rolls) have remained our favorite Banh Cuon ever since @Ns1 @PorkyBelly extolled the virtues of this incredible dish (I continue to kick myself for never having tried Pho Tau Bay (or Banh Cuon) for so long!

For the pandemic, Pho Tau Bay has converted their front door into a Takeout window(!), interesting. You just call in your order, show up and tell them your name and they will bring out your food (all while wearing a mask & gloves).

Taking a bite, their Banh Cuon is just as thin, delicate, wonderful as before! :heart: I love how refined and supple they are (not overly thick like some Banh Cuon we’ve tried on our previous exploration last year). The Ground Pork, Mushrooms and Onions are just flavor bombs, and then the toppings of Shredded Dry Pork and their Nuoc Cham (Fish Sauce-based Dipping Sauce) brings it all together, not overly sweet, nor overpowering like some restaurants.

So worth the drive! :heart:

(Cash Only)

Pho Tau Bay Ltt
3610 W. 1st Street, #C
Santa Ana, CA 92703
Tel: (714) 531-6634

We can’t wait to revisit Little Saigon soon. During the pandemic, it took us only 35 minutes to get there from the Westside (which is far less time than usual traffic just navigating around and through Santa Monica during normal times). :wink:


Vietnamese people won’t accept expensive Vietnamese food. It’s just in our blood.Try again in 2-3 generations.

To your point though it’s ridiculous that banh mi is substantially cheaper than going Subway.


Ditto to what @Ns1 said. My immigrant parents have a hard time spending more than $X on certain items because they are used to it being cheap. That mentality is passed on to their children (first generation to be born here), and it takes experience and education for us to change our beliefs. But if I’m willing to pay $15 or a loaded bowl of ramen, then that should apply to pho and BBH.
Thanks, @Chowseeker1999! I hop down there this weekend to patronize some of these businesses.


Thanks @Ns1. Very unfortunate. But yes, it’s crazy that people are willing to shell out for Subway at much higher prices but not great Banh Mi.

Ba Le Little Saigon makes everything in-house and at under $4, there is not a better QPR sandwich!

There should be lines out the door for this and they should imo easily charge a few $ more.

But these mom-n-pop places need to market themselves more with greater social media presence.


Hi @attran99,

Thanks for your insight on this as well. It’s as you said: It seems many folks have no problem shelling out $20 - $30 for “baller / fancy Japanese Ramen”, but there’s no way a real / great Vietnamese Bun Bo Hue can sustain a price tag even at $10 without people balking. :frowning:

Looking forward to some more great recommendations and reminders from you as you revisit Little Saigo soon.

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Thanks @JeetKuneBao for your great recommendations again, and I agree.

We recently tried an overhyped Italian (Cold Cuts) Sandwich that turned out to be almost $23(!) after tax & tip. Not only was this disappointing Sandwich over 500%(!) of the price of the Ba Le Sandwich’s amazing #1 Cold Cuts Banh Mi, we would easily choose Ba Le over this Italian any day of the week.

I heard some talk on this board about Garlic & Chives. That seems to be more well marketed and “modern”? I’ve never been yet.