Jun 2009

Bánh Mì Mỹ Dung – Los Angeles (Chinatown)

After sampling a number of banh mi sandwiches around town, namely at Bánh Mì Mỹ Tho, Ba Le French Sandwich & Bakery, and Bánh Mì & Chè Cali, I concluded that in the San Gabriel Valley, inexplicably hefty baguettes are the main obstacle keeping good banh mi and from being truly stellar. The bread is “far too large and much, much too thick,” I wrote a few months back. “A proper Vietnamese baguette is made entirely of rice flour, which yields a crisp exterior and hollow center, thus allowing the fixins to really shine through.”

While scoping out the Chinese banquet scene in Chinatown on a Sunday afternoon, I finally encountered a baguette worth writing about. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was the closest to perfection I’ve encountered here in Los Angeles.

I found my ideal baguette specimen at a teeny tiny hole in the wall called Bánh Mì Mỹ Dung—pronounced “Me? Yoong.” The bread here is made fresh everyday by the shop’s proprietress. If the baguettes aren’t piping hot when a customer rolls in, the proprietress, also the head sandwich maker, takes an extra minute or two to carefully toast it in the oven. This small but important detail really makes a world of difference taste-wise and texturally.

The banh mi‘s innards weren’t as noteworthy as the baguette holding them together—the various meats and pickled veggies were on par with other Vietnamese sandwich shops.

The Astronomer and I split a banh mi nem nuong ($2 – sweet grilled pork patties) on our visit. Our order was actually for a banh mi thit nuong (grilled lemongrass pork), but the woman behind the counter most likely gave us what she had on hand. We didn’t mind. That’s the way it goes sometimes when you’re dealing with Mom and Pop in an itty bitty shop.

Bánh Mì Mỹ Dung
314 Ord Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 213-617-7094

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15 thoughts on “Bánh Mì Mỹ Dung – Los Angeles (Chinatown)

  1. Thanks you for this. I recently over indulged in Banh Mi is San Francisco and now I have someplace to try in L.A. Where I live GREG

  2. Only in LA for 8 months, we also have a hard time finding stellar banh mi…and Vietnamese food in general without venturing to OC and SGV… thanks for the updates. Def. agree w/ you about the bread being just as important as all the fillings…

  3. Catherine, you are the quintessential authority on Banh Mi in my opinion. I wish I could find a decent shop in South Orange County (Tustin/Irvine area). I know there are probably real gems in the Little Saigon area, but I’m hesitant about venturing there without a strong endorsement. My Vietnamese is not that great. 🙂 Gringo alert!

    Do you have any suggestions in OC? If I have to drive all the way to LA for a decent Banh Mi, so be it. 😉

  4. you remind me of Bánh Mỳ kẹp thịt in Sai Gon, so much delicious! in Italy (where i am living) people have various and numerous types of bread but seems they prefer the tough crust 🙁

  5. Hey, have you tried Saigon Bakery on Valley/San Gabriel? That’s my go to place for banh mi now and I want your opinions of that place! =)

  6. Greg – You won’t be disappointed at Bánh Mì Mỹ Dung.

    RC – In California, it seems that Vietnamese restaurants only thrive in areas with large Viet populations, which makes a lot of sense. I’m looking forward to trying Good Girl Dinette soon — it’s a Vietnamese-American diner in Highland Park 😉

    Phil – I’m not too familiar with the OC’s banh mi offerings unfortunately. Luckily, my friends at White on Rice have a great feature on banh mi shops in Little Saigon. It’s time to explore!

    Kathy – Tough crusts hurts my gums. I can’t wait to live in Italy again! You’re one lucky duck!

    Danny – It’s on the list! I see it all the time when I’m driving to the SG Superstore. Will report back!

  7. 50% banh mi fail. The march continues. I thought of you this morning as I wondered Valley Blvd @ 8:30am. My Tho’s nem nuong got to me. My whole car now smells like garlic meatballs since I was only able to eat half at 8:35.

  8. You should definitely try the Banh Mi Ga from here. It is sooooo good. I never had anything like it elsewhere. Very flavorful and moist 🙂

  9. Woa… My comment has nothing to do with food, but the store’s name “My Dung” without the diacritical marks. 😉

  10. You suck. I’d rather no know about my secret lair. The place is VERY unorganized. A coke is only $0.75.

    I suggest paying for the double meat if you must visit.

    Bánh Mì Mỹ Tho is 5 star but a bit of a drive for the White Devil (me).

    Why do i prefer the bread at Lee’s Sandwiches?
    Its fresh every 30 minutes.

  11. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid (child of the 80-90’s) and am so happy that someone else out there agrees why the bread at Bánh Mì Mỹ Dung is so great. It’s one of the few places that produces a light, crisp baguette instead of a chewy, doughy one. This place brings a lot of nice memories for me, and I still get two specials and a coffee for my visit with the parents.

  12. There’s a food truck that park right at corner of Alpine & Spring call: Nam Thai Vietnamese Catering also selling delicious vietnamese sandwiches. Check out for Nam Thai (pork belly) sandwich. It’s tased amazing, the bread is fresh and crispy, also try chicken & beef sandwich. Best vietnamese sandwiches i’ve tried so far

  13. I love this place and have been going here regularly since we moved downtown. I didn’t know that they bake their own baguette on the premises but that explains it… it’s perfectly crunchy on the outside for the Special or French sandwiches that come with a generous spread of pate.

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