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Banh Mi Ba Le Review (JP)


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Dorchester Ave has tons of Vietnamese places...tons...

Driving by one day, we saw Banh Mi Ba Le and I told Abby that from my experiences, any sandwich place called Ba Le is usually good. We decided to give it a try last night.

Immediately walking in, I knew I would like the place. They had all my Vietnamese favorites : banh cuon, goi cuon, banh bao, cha, etc. We went for dinner around 7, and everything behind the glass bar, where the sandwiches and other meals are made and served, was nearing an end. I had the feeling that it would be better to come to this place during lunch or earlier for dinner, when the items were just being made and refreshed. But, we had already arrived and were hungry. (Side note, there is no place to sit down and eat here, so you'll have to grab it to go.)

After looking around at what goodies they had in the refrigerators along the sides, we ordered our sandwiches from the owner. She was very nice and even understood my broken Vietnamese. Abby saw their BBQ Beef, and asked for a sample, and the owner obliged. Apparently it was tasty enough, because Abby got the BBQ Beef sandwich. I always get the same thing at any banh mi place: Banh Mi Dac Biet. This is basically the Vietnamese cold cut trio sandwich. After a slathering of home-made butter on the toasted french baguette, the owner then added the pate, cha lua (vietnamese spam) and some ham. After the meats were in, she added the pickled veggies and the hots. Abby also wanted some Goi Cuon (spring rolls) and I wanted some Banh Cuon. Banh Cuon's definition from wikipedia is:

Bánh cuốn is a dish from northern Vietnam. It is a crêpe-like roll made from a thin, wide sheet of rice flour filled with ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, and other ingredients. Sides for this dish usually consist of chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage) and bean sprouts, with the dipping sauce called nước chấm.

As the owner was putting the banh cuon together, I knew I was getting a lot. There wasn't much left in the serving area, but more than enough for 1 serving...she decided to give me all of it. Maybe she was impressed with my broken Vietnamese, maybe she didn't think there was going to be enough left over for another order, whatever...she gave me plenty and I was happy.

Abby grabbed a soy bean milk and we paid our bill : $14.50. Not too shabby at all. The sandwiched range in price from $2.50-$3.00, which is a great price for a sandwich that more than likely will fill you up.

We get home and immediately start devouring the sandwiches. Mine was good, but not as hot as I would like it, so I put it in the toaster oven for a little bit. The sandwich as a whole was good, but not great. I think I would rate this sandwich below the banh mi at New Saigon.

I decided to steal one of Abby's goi cuon. This was very good. Unlike the goi cuon made around Chinatown, this had both pork and shrimp wrapped up in the rice paper. The accompanying peanut sauce tasted like every other Vietnamese peanut sauce, which is to say really freaking good.

All that was left was the banh cuon...which I didn't eat last night. I was so full from the banh mi and goi cuon that I decided to save the banh cuon for dinner tonight.

Overall...I'd give Banh Mi Ba Le a 3 1/2 out of 5. I have a feeling that if we went there for lunch, this place would be closer to 4 or 4 1/2. Vietnamese food is always better when it's made fresh and eaten right away. Though, having the final servings of the day of a friendly Vietnamese sandwich shop is still a better option than no Vietnamese food at all.