Monday, September 8, 2008

Where to Buy Me Some Banh Mi: BC Deli in Oakland

I am testing out my newly formatted entries thanks to help from Drew of How to Cook Like Your Grandmother. This new addition allows me to create summaries of entries to give you a taste before you jump right in. So for the first entry, I decided to write about a backlogged place that I've been eager to share. It's in Norcal, not Little Saigon in the OC, but BC Deli Sandwiches makes the best Vietnamese sandwiches.

More after the jump...

Sandwich menu

This familiar sight has greeted me ever since high school when I used to come to BC Deli, buy five sandwiches and get one free. Vietnamese sandwiches, or banh mi, are hot commodities in predominantely Asian schools. With their old prices, I used to pay $10 for six sandwiches and sell them for $5 each during lunch. Twenty dollar profit easy. Now that they've raised their prices, the profit margin is not quite as large, but they are still a steal compared to a similar sandwich at any American sandwich chain. Everytime I come here, I always buy six sandwiches at a time, even if it's just for myself. They're just too good to pass up.

My favorites are the grilled pork and the grilled chicken sandwiches. They have a char-siu sandwich as well, but they don't appeal to me that much. Nothing about their meat is particularly great, but the way the mayonnaise, soy sauce and possible fish sauce blend together make each sandwich an umami bomb. Also, they have the best pickled daikon and carrots in the Bay Area. Now they have a special toaster to heat up the baguettes, giving each sandwich a satisfying slightly browned, yet always flaky crust. For the record, can anyone tell me what the Vietnamese name for the white and orange pickles is? I've heard a few things, but many Vietnamese people can't seem to agree on what it's called. One of my friends told me she's only called them "sour things" in Vietnamese. For a while, I kept a picture on my phone to order them visually at restaurants instead of butchering the tongue instead.

Grilled pork sandwich, my trusty #5

Though I always buy six at a time, the right portion is about one and a half for me. I could probably stop at one, but the half inevitably gets eaten as well. Otherwise, the rest of the sandwiches keep well in the fridge. They are fun to give out (or sell) but are amazing the next day too. I've tried the banh mi at some other places including the Lee's Sandwiches chain and I still come back to BC everytime. There's just something magical about their sandwiches.

On another personal note, the pickles are extremely easy to make. Just combine white (or rice) vinegar, sugar and a little salt with carrots and daikons cut julienne and leave them floating in the pickling juice for a few hours. Keep them chilled for a week or two and put them on anything or make your own sandwiches.

BC Deli Sandwiches
818 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 286-9978

$2.50 average for a sandwich or $12.50 for six like I always get.



Kat said...

Oh I am glad to hear the opened one up in the Bay Area. This one at least looks clean. I will be sure to let my sister know who lives up there . Recently we went to the one down in OC and usually they are really good, but I had a fly in one of my sandwiches recently. This has turned me off somewhat. Most likely I will just have to go to another location. ^_^ (It's the location by here )

If you are ever down in OC you should really try the Boiling Crab if you like Cajun food.

Aaron said...

@kat That would turn me off to a restaurant also. I've actually heard of the Boiling Crab from a friend of mine. Aren't there multiple locations?

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Do chua literally means sour things. :) But yes, it generally means carrots and daikon. My do chua recipe. It's just vinegar, water, and a bit of sugar.

I'm partial to the Banh Mi & Che Cali chain myself. I like their light and crackly Vietnamese French bread. None of that baguette stuff for me.

There's a Boiling Crab in Alhambra too so you don't have to drive to OC, although it's probably just as far for you.

Sorry I missed the sushi dinner last week! I totally missed out. I'm definitely going to Fogo de Chao though. Mmm. Lamb chops.

Aaron said...

@wandering chopsticks How could I have forgotten to ask you? Thanks so much. Can you provide me some pronunciation help with "do chua"? Is it like "doe" or "du"?

Wandering Chopsticks said...

It's like "doh." More emphasis on the U than the A in chua. Kinda hard to explain accents in writing. :P

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Also, at Banh Mi & Che Cali, it's buy 2 get 1 free, three sandwiches for $4.