Unfamiliar with banh mi? Well, they’re traditional Vietnamese sandwiches served on French baguettes. We’ve had authentic banh mi from street food carts in Vietnam (you can read about it here).
If you’re a banh mi fan and live in Vancouver, then you’ve most likely been to a Ba Le location. There are three of these uber popular banh mi shops in the Lower Mainland – Chinatown, Kingsway, and Surrey.
After discovering a Ba Le location in Kona, Hawaii, it reminded us that although we’ve eaten at Ba Le countless times in Vancovuer, we’ve never actually written a post about them. So, we visited the Kingsway location this time, and not surprisingly had another satisfying experience.
Located on Kingsway & Fraser in Vancouver, Ba Le is a little Vietnamese deli and bakery, specializing in banh mi. They also sell other Vietnamese items as well, such as rice dishes, noodle plates and desserts. However, most customers come for the cheap subs! Ba Le’s not the type of sub shop to dine-in as it’s a small space, so order you sandwiches to-go. There are a few varieties to choose from such as grilled pork, grilled beef, chicken and Vietnamese ham. On this visit, we ordered a total of four banh mi sandwiches and a pudding for dessert: Two Cold Cut banh mi subs ($3 each), two Special banh mi subs ($3.25 each), and a Tapioca Cup.
Ba Le bakes all of their bread in-house. These tasty French baguettes were a beautiful golden colour and were crusty on the outside and had light and airy interiors. They gave that distinctive crunch when we bit into them; crumbs got everywhere!
The Cold Cut and Special banh mi both contain essentially the same ingredients, except the Special includes pate as well as Vietnamese cold cut meats. In terms of veggies, there are pickled daikon radish, carrots, jalapeno slices, and fresh cilantro sprigs. Mmm cilantro. Everything’s better with cilantro. These are ideal sandwiches because they satisfy multiple taste sensations: Sweetness from the carrots, salty and savory meats flavours, crunchy texture of the bread, bright and fragrant herbs, and a little spicy kick of heat from the jalapeno. Dee-lish!
Depending on who’s making the subs, you’ll receive less or more toppings. Luckily, on this occasion we got a heavy handed lady who added plenty of meat and vegetables to ours. As you can see from the photos, the expert banh mi sandwich artist included sufficient ingredients, making them vary satisfying subs.
The banana tapioca pudding that we ordered for dessert was made in-house at Ba Le and contained lots of chunks of banana and plenty of small pearls. However, it tasted like it had been sitting around for a couple days. We’d recommend sticking with the subs.