Saturday, January 8, 2011
Banh Mi Battel-Dorchester MA #3
What: #5 Grill Beef Banh Mi
Where: Lee's Store & Bakery
982 Dorchester Avenue
Dorchester MA 02125
How much: $2.50
I got a disease, a pathological hunger that can only be quenched by Banh Mi.
(readers, cue Ben Lee - Catch My Disease) (clicking on link should open YouTube in a new browser tab so you can hear my selected audio track playing, but you will have to click back on this tab to return) (this finally works again)
This day's travels took me to Dorchester MA via NH. There are two other Banh Mi destinations down the road in Dorchester (Banh Mi Ba Le and La Baguette) as well as another down the road in Quincy that I have reviewed. Kim up in Portland ME was right, I have to go to Dorchester to experience Banh Mi.
By the way, if you haven't caught up with the past comments, a reader posts that (s)he thinks that Be Le means Paris in Vietnamese. It sounds right to me. See here. Did you notice the Eiffel town on the sign for Banh Mi Ba Le? Thanks for the info, reader! Also offered up were reviews of their two favorite Banh Mi destinations. When I get to San Diego and Vancouver, you can bet I will be trying them.
Back to the Banh Mi in hand...
Banh Mi University graduate? Oh yes! Magna Cum Laude. Note the white deli wrap and elastic as one would expect. Yes, that is my usual luncheon dining table in the picture. Bread was very,very good, but not perfect. It was crusty on the outside as expected, with a slightly thinner crust than others I've had, which was not a bad thing at all. But it just lacked that slightly chewy inside that I prefer. The bread seems identical to Banh Mi Ba Le. The meat was there in quantity and tasty. The shape of the beef pieces was irregular and chunk-like. The pieces were very tender and looked shaved/ripped/pulled on the some of the edges. Plant material was excellent. Cilantro was crisp and not one hint of darkness on the leaves, though I would have preferred a bit more. Carrots was well pickled, generous and tasty, but not very crisp. The cucumber was long and very thin. No scallions here. The smear of mayo as generous as I have had and moistened everything very nicely. I asked the counter person for spicy. I did get generous helping of jalapenos. They did not seem too hot. The first bite had a little bite, but the burn started to build with every bite. The burn did not last very long. Sandwich size was comparable to most. I did have to ask the sandwich maker to pour some fish sauce on it. You can't see it in the picture and she was not very generous, but the salty savory taste did shine through. Service was not super fast, but that may really have been part of the language barrier. The Boston Phoenix review had very good advice in making sure you ask for "Vietnamese" style. I asked for #5 "Viet style", held up five fingers and the lady behind the counter went over to the menu sign and looked at me pointed to the text next to #5. I nodded yes and she started. While the bread was heating up/toasting, she pulled out some lettuce and a tomato and started cutting them up. I started waving my hands and saying "no, no, I want Viet style...cilantro, carrots". Finally the cashier came over, explained what I had said to the sandwich maker and she pulled out the other set of vegetables out.
The place was clean and parking on Dot. Ave was not as bad as I thought it would be, even with the aftereffects of the recent snow. Lee's is really a small convenience store with groceries, baked goods, cigs and lottery tickets, but a large section of the store devoted to Banh Mi and beverages. At $2.50, an excellent value for the money.
I'd give it 5.0B/6.
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I guess I'll be back to Dorchester very soon to get to Chau Bakery. Hau Giang seems to have closed and will be renamed. I called the phone number on the sign and the woman who answered said they would open mid-January.