BiteClubber, Christina asks: Since moving to Santa Rosa from the South Bay, my mom has been craaaaaving Vietnamese sandwiches (Bahn mi) like she used to get at a shop in San Jose. Musts include lean flavorful meat, a vegetarian option, lots of fresh vegetables, no heavy sauces – and fresh home-baked bread would be a huge plus. Do you or any of the Bite Club readership know of such a place here? Simply Vietnam does great Vietnamese, but sadly no Bahn mi. Thanks!
If you’re not familiar with Bahn mi, then you should be. This delicious grab-no-go meal is simply a fresh baguette piled with pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, cucumber, hot chilies, sliced pork and some sort of mystery meat that you try not to think about too much (most often head cheese). Both sides of the bread are spread with a sweet mayo and fish or soy sauce.
The crunchy veggies, soft bread and combination of meats makes for a sweet, salty, savory bit of heaven on a bun.Once you’re hooked you’ll never look at tuna salad or turkey on white the same again. Sadly, almost no one in the North Bay makes ’em. BiteClub called several Vietnamese restaurants inquiring about these hearty ‘wiches that I remember from big city Vietnamese dives. One local restaurant owner told me they don’t serve them because they’re not cost-effective on a menu–frequently well under $5 in the South Bay. What?
Undaunted, I did find them in Santa Rosa at Lee’s Noodle House. I’ve tried to keep this little Vietnamese pho gem under my chopsticks, but their recently-added Bahn mi were too good a sercret to keep. And apparently I wasn’t the only one asking. The owner says he only added the sandwiches to his menu after regulars kept pleading for them. Over and over. Best of all, at Lee’s, this lunchtime delight will set you back a mere $3. Shocking but true. Who’s the sandwich artist now?
Lee’s Noodle House, 1010 Hopper Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.523.2358