Banh Mi: Malaysian Mei

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Mei IbachMei Ibach always seems to have something cooking. From her involvement with last year’s market hit, Hot Cheese (with friend John Ash) to dim-sum and tea pairings, teaching at SRJC or working on new recipes, Ibach is a culinary whirlwind.

But her newest project may be the closest to her southeast Asian heritage: Banh Mi sandwiches and Asian sauces and curries.

Mei has already set up shop in Windsor at the Sunday farm market where she launched Malaysian Mei green and red curries, pineapple chutney and a peanut sauce recipe cultivated after tasting dozens of sauces in Singapore. Made with nuts she roasts herself, it’s slightly chunky, with hints of kefir lime leaves, fish sauce, chilies and lemongrass — not the peanut-butter sauce often served at Thai restaurants. “I begged and pleaded with a chef in Singapore to give me the recipe. I said, ‘I’ll make you famous!'” So what’s his name. “I’d have to look that up,” she laughs. Good enough to eat straight from the container, they’re $5 and $6 each.

Starting on Thursday nights in Windsor, along with alternative Saturdays at the Santa Rosa Veteran’s Hall Market, she’ll also be selling the coveted Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches from her stall as well. Stuffed with pulled pork, lemongrass chicken or five-spice tofu, they’re crunchy hoagie rolls with layered with mushroom pate, spiced homemade mayo, carrots, daikon, jalapenos, cilantro and cucumbers. Each gets a dousing with one of her curries or peanut sauce as well. For $6 they’re a steal with the culinary stamp of approval of several local chefs (John Ash and Roger Praplan from La Gare were early testers, along with several food writers).

Mei Ibach banh mi
Where to get Malaysian Mei sauces and banh mi…

Malaysian May SaucesSauces only:
– 5/1 to Dec 18 – Sunday Windsor Farmer’s Market
– 2nd/Fourth Saturdays: Healdsburg Farmer’s Market

Sauces & Banh Mi:
– 6/16 through 8/24: Thursday Night Windsor Farmer’s Market
– Starting in June, first and third Saturdays: Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market (veteran’s building)

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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  1. I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. It was one of those days, the bread didn’t come in fresh. Bobby Leaf, i am willing to give you a replacement sandwich next time you at the market. I am now getting my bread from a local bakery to ensure a fresh taste.

  2. Sorry to hear that. You havn’t tried her food recently then, because it’s quite good. The bread is softer.

  3. Delicious! Everything there was so good! I found the prices quite reasonable. Believe me, most food is very expensive. Mei’s food is quite the bargain- tastes great, good price.

    When I eat her food, I am one happy person.

  4. I kept coming back, and the bread tasted better and better. Quite delicious Banh Mi, I couldn’t make it better myself. Her sauces though blew me away. I love them. You have to try her curry sauce, peanut sauce, and pineapple chutney! Her sauces are now at shelton’s food market in Healdsburg. Everything was delicious, if you haven’t tried it, you’re seriously missing out.

  5. Also, I noticed in the review that they advertise her bread as “crunchy hoagie rolls.” Stale and crunchy are not quite the same thing. I don’t like to spread bad vibes, but I don’t know how someone can proudly hand you a stale sandwich and tell you it’s the next biggest thing. Mei was quite sweet and charming, though. I wish her business the best of luck!

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more. I tried her Banh Mi for the first time yesterday at the Farmer’s Market in Windsor. The innards were quite delicious and fresh (I had the lemongrass chicken), but the bread was stale and hard. I thought, “Is this how it’s supposed to be?!?” And the price – $7 – is so unreasonable I don’t know where to start. I grew up in the East Bay and all my peeps down there are telling me I got insanely ripped off. Banh Mi sandwiches should be in the LOW $3 range. I will also state that while the innards were delicious and fresh, there was not much chicken for the $. Grave disappointment.


  7. Her curry is amazing. Sorry you had a bad experience.

  8. Bit contradictory of you ask me. We had her sandwiches last week. Bread was stale and hard to bite into. The meat was horrible, almost like a tuna fish texture (for beef?). And the zinger was that the sandwiches were $7. Expensive, Bad and over rated. There are much better vendors at these markets to spend my hard earned money at. Such a rip off.

  9. Jill, have you had the Banh Mi at Noodle Bowl on Range Ave.? Just had one (grilled chicken) on Thursday and it was wonderful. $3.95. Looking forward to trying Mei’s.

  10. Mei is great and her food is always fabulous!

  11. You don’t have to go to San Francisco for the best Banh Mi
    We have it in Sonoma county now!

  12. Wow, That sandwich looks incredible, delicious. Ban Mi Mei has done it.
    Can’t wait to get my hands around one of those and have a big bite.
    It should be a great addition to the the market

  13. Wow, these Banh Mis are great! I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It shouldn’t be called “Malaysia Mei” it should be called AMAZING MEI.

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