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« Imo Manju from Home Maid Bakery | Main | Beard Papa's Cream Puffs »

November 16, 2004



The filling looks really yummy.. but i'm the type of person who loves the filling and not so much the bread.. ;)


Hi MrsTweety,

I love the filling too. This lemongrass chicken was really spicy! YUM! Although it doesn't seem like it, there was actually a very nice ratio of filling to bread. Almost perfect (for me).

At some of the other Ba-Le restaurants, they put too much pickled daikon and carrots that you really can't taste much else.


Oh swell! You guys just swipe all the Vietnamese sandwich makers and leave me here stranded! ::pout:: I've had a decent indoctrination to Vietnamese lunch cusine (pho, noddle salad, and the like) and I was aware that they have a strong french style bakery tradition thanks (?) to the french occupation of their country. I have never had the opportunity to try their sandwichs. I think I need to change that post haste. The salad topping looks delicious. I'm no fan of curry however. What other things might they be stuffed with?


Lemongrass chicken banh mi? Well, you won't find that ont he streets of Saigon - not yet... The bread looks A LOT heavier than we get here. The bread is not high quality here, but is extremely light and matches the sarnie interior well.

I wouldn't be too surprised to see a banh mi chain kick off over here. What with the success of the Pho 24 soup chain. I think it would really work if done well. For now, banh mi is strictly street nosh.


Banh mi has got to be one of my favourite lunches. So light, fresh and zingy!

I've never seen lemongrass chicken in Sydney, Aust though. Ours are generally pork deli-meats, shredded chicken, nem nuong or plain salad.

I tried a banh mi in Vietnam and we were disappointed that there was hardly any filling compared to back home.

PS. Congrats on a great blog. Who knew that Hawaii had such delectable gastronomic possibilities?


wow, that sandwich looks really delicious! This is the first time I've been introduced to bahn mi. I simply love the aroma of lemongrass, and can just imagine how fragrant the chicken must be! Lucky you, Reid! :)


I had this same lemongrass chicken banh mi a few weeks ago at the Ba Le in Mānoa, but my experience was the opposite of yours. The service was gruff, the restaurant was dim and unpleasant, and the garnishes for the sandwich were dripping with too much vinegar. After remembering the most delicious banh mi in the markets of Saigon, I was very disappointed and determined not to return.

It sounds like my experience may have been a fluke and that I shouldn't write off the chain too soon. I'll have to give them another try!


Is Balle a chain or a franchise? In my experience,the quality varies by store. I prefer the Daiei/Kaheka and the downtown store.

Allen Wong


I love banh mi sandwiches. I've been all around the Sunset Park area looking for the best banh mi. So far, the best has been a place that recently opened. It's also the cheapest, surprisingly.

The baguette used doesn't really seem French. It's much crustier and a bit longer than the typical French baguette. That sandwich looks delicious. I love the presentation. :)




I'm lucky to be close to Little Saigon in California. There, banh mi costs a mere $1.50 a sandwich, and if you buy 2 you get one free. Banh mi connoisseurs over here would scoff at the price you paid, but given the island location, it is pretty understandable.


Hi Jo,

The bahn mi served at Ba-Le comes with many different toppings such as barbecue pork, steamed pork, Vietnamese pate, ham, etc.

Hi Noodlepie,

I'm surprised that Vietnam doesn't have a fast food bahn mi shop yet. Hey...maybe I just got an idea for a business op! No doubt that it would do well, as it's quick and convenient.

In Vietnam are the fillings mainly the steamed pork, barbecue pork and pate?

Hi Augustus Gloop,

Welcome to the blog...and thanks for the compliment. =)

The lemongrass chicken has got to be one of my favorites. At the Ba-Le near my office, they also serve on with lemongrass beef which is also quite good. I've had many of the sandwiches here and they are all yummy. In my opinion, this one had just the right balance of chicken/veggies in relation to the bread.

Hey, maybe you can suggest to the folks back home that they should make a lemongrass chicken bahn mi! Hope to see you again!

BTW...I think a lot of my regular readers are surprised by the great range of food we have in Hawaii. I guess it's because the warm, pleasant weather attracts people from all over the globe. Haven't been to Sydney in a while, but I know there are a lot of good places to eat there as well.

Hi Julia,

Thanks. =)

This is actually quite yummy! I like it a lot because it's a bit spicy...and I love spicy food. =) Also, I think that warm fillings are better in bahn mi for some reason.

Hi Alan,

Thanks for stopping by my blog! As you know, with any chain of restaurants, you'll get your good and bad. Generally speaking, I've had good experiences in most of the Ba-Le shops that I've visited. Most of the time, I visit the locations at Ward Villages, Daiei Kaheka and Downtown (Ft. Street Mall). The service all seems to be quite good.

I've also noticed that at some of the outlets, they put way too much pickled veggies in the bahn mi and this can ruin the eating experience. Good luck if you decide to try this again.


Welcome. I believe Ba-Le is a franchise within the State of Hawaii. I believe they may also have a couple of locations in Japan (!). You're very right, the quality of the bahn mi varies by location.

Hi Allen Wong,

Nice to see you again! I wouldn't say that this was the most authentic French loaf that I have seen, but the bread is really yummy and "crusty". I'm glad you're able to find good quality bahn mi where you're at. I like this a lot too, just don't get to eat it so often. By our standards, this is actually quite inexpensive.

By the way, have you tried An Dong in Sunset Park? I heard that the bahn mi there is quite good. The owner's daughter recently opened Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches in the East Village.

Hi Avatar,

Thanks for dropping by my blog! I'm glad that you're able to get good quality bahn mi in California at such a low price. I wish I were able to...then I'd eat this all the time. This one was actually quite inexpensive. I've been to Vietnamese restaurants when the bahn mi was upwards of US$5.00!

Hope to see you again.

FatMan Seoul

Looks like it's bahn mi week over here and at pieman's blog. Strange coincidence? Nope ... just bloggers in sync.


Hi FatMan,

How strange is that? I was just thinking the same thing. My bahn mi was eaten on Monday night, but the bahn mi that noodlepie just had looks much better. I like the sound of eggs on a nice French loaf.

There was the same thing going on with Renee (shiokadelicious!). She did a post on long beans with egg and I ate that for dinner on Tuesday night (last night)!


Hey Avatar! What part of California are you in? If your a northerner, can you give an address for the place your talking about?

Agustus Gloop... now THERE's a name you don't typically hear every day. My house is a different story. You don't happen to be THE Agustus Gloop do you?

Out of curiosity, how many of you know who THE Agustus Gloop is/was?

Thanks for the additional info Reid. BBQ pork is right up my alley. I want to try doing some pulled pork on our gas grill. I've gotten some info on using a gas grill for slow cooking and smoking and now is the time to put it to the test. I plan on using a dry rub first then saucing with a mustard/vinegar mop towards the end. The rub I always use on pork is equal parts salt/ground black pepper/garlic powder. I use that rub on the cheapest pork roasts I can get (.99 lb) then slow roast pouring off the juices every 30 to 45 minutes. After about 4 or 5 hours, you have the most awesome roasted pork imaginable. I pull the fat from the juice and use it for rice. I like the meat best served Mexicanish with tortillas, salsa, sourcream, etc. But just the meat, rice, and a crisp iceberg & tomato salad is a meal to remember. Leftovers make fried rice to die for. Assuming there are leftovers of course...


I've never had bahn mi before, but mmmm, looks yummy!


Sorry, Jo... I'm in SoCal.

Allen Wong


I'm sorry to say that An Dong has been long closed. I didn't know about "Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches" though. I'm near the East Village sometimes. Maybe I'll give it try. Thanks for the tip.



Hi CC,

Thanks for visiting my blog. Bahn mi is actually quite good. The fillings are nice, and as an added bonus, the bread usually arrives quite warm and toasty. You should try it if you have a chance.

Hi Allen,

Oh, I wasn't aware that An Dong was closed. =( The bahn mi was quite good there from what I hear. If you have a chance, try Nicky's, I'd like to know how good the bahn mi is.

BTW, I heard that soon they'll start selling a portobello mushroom bahn mi sandwich...doesn't sound to appetizing in my book. I really don't like when ethnic food restaurants "Westernize" their food.


Hi! Just wanted to put my 2 cents in. We have a TON of Banh Mi sandwich shops here in Houston, Texas. The most popular is the BBQ pork type. But the best part is the buttery spread they slather on! Anyone know the recipe?? Here, you can buy 5 sandwiches and get 1 free all for $11.00!!! No wonder we're the fattest city!


HOLY COW! MIKE, can we move to Houston, TX instead of North Carolina?


Hi Mary,

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Wow! I didn't know there were a lot of bahn mi shops in Houston. When I was in Dallas a year ago, the only ethnic restaurant that I saw was PF Changs. Next time I'm in Texas, I will definitely keep my eyes open. The bahn mi there sounds like a bargain.

Hope to hear from you again!


Excellent blog, Reid. I love reading it. I visit Hawaii often and didn't realize the extent of the restaurant scene.

Nicky's in the East Village is, by far, my favorite place for bahn mi sandwiches. The baguette is perfectly toasted with just the right combination of meat and seasoned vegetables - slightly sweet, yet tangy. I've tried all of sandwiches there, including the portabello. The classic combination is my favorite - Nicky's has excellent pate. I found the portabello to have an interesting taste, but the juices from the mushrooms tend to seep into baguette making it slightly soggy if not eaten quickly.

Btw, Nicky's has also opened up another shop in Brooklyn.

Keep up the excellent work!


I've definitely found that the quality varies at each Ba-Le. The one in Kahala Mall is the one I end up at the most, I'm rarely impressed. I think my favorite sandwich is actually from one of the vendors in Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown

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