Stuffed to the brim. Peppery chunky crunchy meatloaf. Cucumber strips, cilantro twigs, carrot and daikon strings. And beneath it all, a layer of (possibly homemade) velvety vietnamesischer Braunschweiger, als ob es jeglichen Sinn ergibt. Ja, der Sandwich ist so explosiv gut it induces a spontaneous breakout of German.
Bánh mì pâté thịt nướng*. Not the usual chargrilled pork banh mi I’ve had elsewhere, this one has some kind of briny rich meatloaf. I ordered only two miserable loaves. Shoulda got 20!
On top of that I found the secret to a good spicy yet non-spicy banh mi.
I forgot to ask them to hold the pepper, so they put in loads of jalapenos, which I could only picked out when I got home an hour later. You can get rid of the pepper (and you should, unless you have a parrot tongue**), but you can’t get rid of the pepper sting (which you shouldn’t). That mere fire tail left behind in the bread and the veggies and the meat gives just the right kick without overwhelming the other tastes. But if you wait too long (a few hours in the fridge) to pick out the jalapenos, then you might as well not pick them out at all, the sting has already soaked deep.
Address: Bánh Mì Ba Lẹ (East Oakland)
1909 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94606
(*) I didn’t see “bánh mì pate thịt nướng” or “thịt nướng pate” anywhere on the menu, I just copied the customers who ordered before me and the ones before them. Seems like a popular combination, for obvious reasons. So bánh mì is really like cơm tấm, only your imagination, not the printed menu, can limit your options! 😉
(**) I was told that the if you feed parrots chilipeppers, which they actually can eat, their pea-shaped tongue can get thinner (the heat peels it off) and allow them to talk. I haven’t found a source to verify this though…