Banh Mi Ba Le

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Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) has been the craze for a while now.  From food trucks to fusion banh mis like fried chicken banh mi, it makes me reminisce about a simpler time when banh mis were $1 (instead of the average $5) and they just kept it authentic and simple.  Some of my favorites for authentic banh mi are Thanh Huong and Huong Lan in San Jose, and Cam Huong in Oakland (Sorry - Saigon Sandwiches in SF  have fallen off my favorites list after their remodel), but Banh Mi Ba Le is the best banh mi I've had so far in the Bay Area.   A little bit of a trek into the not-so-safe part of Internatinal Blvd in East Oakland, but SO worth it.  Also, double bonus, you can pick up the best Bay Area tacos a couple blocks down at Sinaloa taco truck (see post HERE
Banh Mi Ba Le keeps it simple with tradional banh mis and the sandwiches here range from $2.50 to $3.50.  Okay, so the $5 toll makes these sandwiches above the average $5 SF banh mi prices for me, but SF banh mis don't even come close!  Not to mention a runny egg in your banh mi is almost unheard of in SF. 
They have a lot of freshly made goodies also like spring rolls, vermicelli, and some rice plates.

Thick and refreshing, the mango smoothies here are actually made with real fruit, not the powdery artificial stuff.

#13 - the pork meatball with fried egg sandwich.  This is their most popular sandwich and rightfully so.  The sandwich comes warm and perfectly toasted.  Crispy on the outside, but not so hard you hurt your mouth when eating, and soft, fluffy insides.  Since the egg is fried and runny, it's best you eat the sandwich asap to get the full gooey texture of the egg along with the crispy, warm bread. 

The pork meatball isn't really a meatball, but more like ground pork with amazing flavor.  Unlike some banh mis, you get a huge dose of flavor in each bite.  They don't put a lot of pickled veggies in here, but I find that its a perfect ratio of bread to meat to veggies.  They also had a quarter slice of cucumber for an added crunch.  I love how the runny egg gushes through the whole sandwich.  Be careful when eating this since the egg tends to drip out of the sandwich. 
 The grilled pork (#8) is also another popular sandwich here.  After having the meatball and fried egg, I felt like this sandwich was a little dry and bland.  The grilled pork comes in thick slabs and tend to be a little on the drier side.  I think it would be better with a runny egg!  Like most Asian spots, you can customize the sandwiches with an egg - will do that next time for this sandwich... 

The inside of the grilled pork banh mi (#8).

Address:                         Banh Mi Ba Le
                                               1909 International Blvd
                                               Oakland, CA

Type:                                 Vietnamese/sandwich

Popular chomps:   #13 - pork meatball with fried egg
                                              #8   - grilled pork

Chomp worthy:       #13 - pork meatball with fried egg         

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