Is It Any Good?

Vietnamese Sandwiches and treats in San Gabriel.

Banh Mi Che Cali on Urbanspoon
Banh Mi Che Cali on Foodio54

This is without a doubt, the most modern, sleek Bahn Mi & Cali Che (still no website after all these years) I’ve ever been in. This San Gabriel location is best looking restaurant in the chain. Don’t know how long it’s been open, but it looks brand spanking new.

That being said…

For some reason, this is also the slowest restaurant in the chain. That’s not necessarily a criticism. The Lady behind the counter is just making your sandwich with a lot of care…extra special…particular care…making your Banh Mi.

My Dad once went to a Subway near his house, where he complained that the Owner was parsing out ingredients like they were coming out of his fridge. That’s not what’s happening here. She was careful, but generous. The sandwich came out great. It just took…a while.

Okay, from here, we can go with our standard Bahn Mi & Cali Che review:

Ever since my game-changing, life-altering experience at Banh Mi My Tho (okay, that was a little strong.  It was just a really good sam’mich), I’ve been looking to replicate that hit, that moment, that ecstasy at…well…virtually every other Banh Mi Place I’ve tried.

And granted, I haven’t been able to match the price…at least not exactly. But for the most part, I’ve been able to match the joy of that first sandwich, or at least come close.

This has of course lead to a new Banh Mi quest. A quest…for seating.

Ba Le came close, in that, they were a little roomier than Banh Mi My Tho in that they had two whole chairs inside the Store.

Which leads me to Bahn Mi & Cali Che (no website, or Facebook link).

Yeah seriously. All these locations and no website. That is weird.

Clearly, they don’t need one to generate business, but still…

What’s great about San Gabriel, is that there’s this whole restaurant infrastructure that was there when San Gabriel was predominately…well, non-Asian. And slowly, these old Diners, Coffee Shops, Pizza Joints are being taken over by Asian Ownership, and being turned into something even more magical.

Such is the story, as far as I can tell with Bahn Mi & Cali Che.

Clearly there was something here before, probably int he Diner/Coffee Shop Variety. But the new ownership has made it work for them, selling a wonderland of Vietnamese/Southeast Asian confections, sundries and treats.

But they also got them some Banh Mi.

Again, for a really cheap price, you can get yourself a tasty “football of love” as Bourdain would put it. And unlike Banh Mi My Tho and Ba Le, there are actually places to sit.

Well, in theory there are places to sit.

No lie Banh Mi & Che Cali has got a mess of chairs and tables.

Thing is, they’re usually filled with paying, happy customers.

Yeah, that crowded. Must say something about the quality of the meal, if that many people are here to get at it.

Ah. Good to see so very little has changed.


WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, if you’re here get yourself a Banh Mi, preferably of the Grilled Pork variety. Over the years now, my Banh Mi love has shifted from Banh Mi My Tho to Golden Deli, and…to be honest this sandwich doesn’t stand apart from Golden Deli.  It’s damn good, and I’d have it again in a second.  It’s just not the best in L.A. It wasn’t like I was biting into sunshine for the first time, but it wasn’t far off. It’s a nice, inexpensive burst of Comfort food joy. Grab a Sandwich and a Coke. Enjoy.

I also try to nab some Fried Spring Rolls where possible, but the Pork Buns are good, as well as the Baked Chicken Buns.

Prices have gone up a little bit, but since more of the locations are taking Credit Cards, I’m sure that’s part of the reason.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: It does bear repeating that this particular location did manage to screw things up a little.

You see, you have to get your order as from each station as you go down the chain. Get your drink here. Get your egg rolls over there, etc.

What happened to me was they forgot to give me my egg rolls right as I ordered them, and by the time I got back to pick them up, they were sold out. So I had to settle for a Baked Chicken Bun, which was delicious, but wasn’t what I ordered.

So, pretty restaurant. Slightly disorganized way of doing things.

And remember what I said about the crowds? All too true. But they have some limited seating outside.


PARKING: This location is in a Mini Mall, with a Hawaii Supermarket. There is a lot of parking here, and it’s all free. Weekends might push it.


Banh Mi & Cali Che
135 S San Gabriel Blvd # A
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Tel: (626) 286-8728

Daily: 6:00 am – 10:00 pm