After my appointment at Good Salon, I was famished. I debated getting a Vietnamese sub next door from Ami Tea and Sub or fried chicken across the street from the Blue Store. It was a tough decision, but in the end, banh mi won. For this post, let’s listen to “Sweet Dreams” by Beyoncé.
I ordered a Warm Kitchen Pate Sausage ($8). I noticed the owner put a lot of care into making my sandwich. The sub was jam-packed with generous amounts of pate and simmered pork meat slices. The carrots were minced so it lacked that crunch I crave. The texture of the cucumber was soft.
The bread is light and crusty. I didn’t find the baguette dry, but there were a million little crumbs on the table after I finished eating. The flavour of the pate and sausage was delicate and fresh. I thought my sub was heavy on the sauce – the soy and mayonnaise intermingled and dripped down all over my napkin. I noticed the mayonnaise was painfully sweet – so much that I wished I omitted it.
How does Ami Sub compare to the banh mi heavy hitters in Calgary? Taste-wise, this sub was similar to My My Sub‘s homestyle cold cut. Ami’s sub is even more filling than My Tho BBQ’s cold cut and nearly matches To Me in quantity. I have a hearty appetite, and after demolishing this sub, I was uncomfortably full for hours. The flavour combination of the pate, vegetables and sausage was subtle – there isn’t that rustic pungency that you get at Saigon Deli or flavour bomb that you get at Thi Thi. I also prefer my pate with a richness to it, like Xich Lo, Obanhmi or Banh Mi Nhu Y.
I’ve reached a milestone today! As Ami Sub was date #10/19, I’ve only got nine more to go to complete my goal! For banh mi date #11, I want to check out Paper Lantern or Rau Bistro.
On Monday, I met L at the University of Calgary to vote for Calgary’s new mayor – Jyoti Gondek. After we voted, we went on date 9 out of 19 at Bake Chef. For this post, let’s listen to “The Times They Are A-Changin” by Bob Dylan.
I wanted to order a cold cut sub because one of my favourite things about a banh mi is the contrast of the warm toasted baguette and the refreshing chill of the vegetables and meat. However, the last time I tried a cold cut at Bake Chef I was not impressed, so I ordered what L recommended.
L and I both ordered the Beef Sate Sub ($8.10). We went to his office to eat our lunch. I was relieved because I know I would have embarrassed L with my banh mi photo shoot. However, even in the privacy of his office, I could sense L was nervous. His eyes darted around as the crumbs and carrots started to fall on the table. L is sensitive to food smells, so I think he was worried I’d drop the subs on the floor, which would definitely leave an odour behind. Personally, I would love to work in an environment that smelled like my most favourite food in the world. Lucky for him, no sub was injured in the making of this blog post and I left his office stink free.
The baguette was soft and squishy, significantly lighter than Saigon Deli and Trung Nguyen. The generous amount of beef was hot, saucy and sweet. I enjoyed the gooeyness of the melted white cheese and the texture of the ribbon-like cucumbers. The carrots, red onions and jalapeño provided a crunch that help to balance out the soft texture of the beef.
How does this sub compare to all the other banh mi heavy hitters? The vegetables were fresh, but the carrots weren’t pickled. Size-wise, this sub is packed with more meat than even My Tho, To Me Sub and MyMy Sub. L prefers the texture and taste of the beef at Bake Chef over Saigon Deli, which he finds too dry. Bake Chef’s sub is also the most filling – I was stuffed for the next five hours. The bread is light and dry, so the sub gets soggy rather quickly. The addition of the lettuce and cheese makes Bake Chef’s sate beef sub the least authentic, but that doesn’t matter to me, as the overall flavour is great.
If you can, get out for the advanced vote. The ballot process this year is more complicated than previous elections. There are two ballots – a municipal and a provincial ballot. As well, voters will be asked to vote onadding fluoride to our water, select nominees for the Senate of Canada and vote on referendums about equalization payments and Daylight-Saving Time.
I met Pedals at National on 17th Ave for half price wine. I picked National because I wanted to get a banh mi at Thai Tai after our night out. I’m always thinking ahead. For this post, let’s listen to “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna.
I haven’t eaten at Thai Tai before because I heard the food is westernized. However, I stumbled on a post on Instagram and the cold cut sub looked good enough for me.
I ordered a Cold Cut ($7.99) on toasted white bread with carrots, cucumber, onions, and chili peppers. When my sandwich was ready, I sat outside to eat. When I took the first bite, I grunted in appreciation. The guy sitting across from me that shot me a weird look, like I was ruining his late night meal.
The combination of the warm crusty sub and the coolness of the meat and pickled vegetables was so overwhelmingly delicious, my eyes rolled to the back of my head. It’s incredible how much joy a banh mi can give me. The ratio of meat to vegetable and bread was spot on. The thick layers of meat are double that of Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi. The pate is so subtle that I didn’t really notice it. However, I found the special sauce of garlic, chili soy sauce and sriracha bright and savoury.
I called an Uber after I ate, but I still craving something. I spoke to an employee and told him my predicament. He said he had some spring rolls I could take from another order. He just made a friend for life. The vegetable spring rolls were awesome. When I arrived home, the shell was crunchy and the filling was still super-hot. I liked that I was given fish sauce, hot sauce and plum sauce.
L said when I came upstairs, I ranted for a good twenty minutes about how much I enjoyed my sub and spring rolls before falling into a deep sleep. The two glasses of wine I consumed earlier may have intensified my enthusiasm for Thai Tai. In any case, I plan to return and try the cold cut again, so my next review won’t be influenced by outside factors.
I met up with Reeves at Cactus Club. Before I left my house to meet her, I looked up restaurants that would be open after our girls’ night. I spotted Thai Thien (formerly Thai Tai Sub) on 811 1 ST SW. I figured it was the perfect opportunity to have banh mi date night #7 out of 19. For this post, let’s listen to “You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel.
Cactus Club has half price wine on Tuesday and Wednesday. We drank some wine and Reeves ordered calamari. I nibbled on some of the hot peppers, but I was saving my appetite for the main course – a banh mi. I read the Google and Yelp reviews of Thai Thien beforehand so I didn’t have the highest expectation. I incorrectly assumed that a place like Thai Thien, one that caters to the downtown work crowd and tourists, wouldn’t have pate in their assorted sub ($4.99). I was happy to find out I was wrong.
I requested a white baguette as I read in the reviews that the brown version is too doughy. I found the interior of the bread soft and light. The cucumber was quartered and each piece was noticeably crisp and fresh. The carrots are pickled and crunchy. The sliced onions gave off a pleasing pungency. I counted two layers of cold cuts. Next time I would request extra meat to balance out the heavy ratio of cucumber. I appreciate the generous layers of pate, mayonnaise and butter, which I think is Thai Thien’s strong suit.
How does this cold cut compare to the other banh mi heavy hitters? Size-wise, the sub is similar to Trung Nguyen and Kim Anh. The flavour of Thai Thien’s pate tasted like Freybe’s pork pate, which gave the sub a westernized twist. I much prefer Xích Lô, Banh Mi Nhu Y, and My Tho BBQ’s pate. Thai Thien gives the least amount of meat but considering the rock bottom prices and the high rent location, I’m fine with paying a little extra to get some more meat. In terms of taste, Saigon Deli, Banh Mi Nhu Y, Xích Lô, Trung Nguyen, and Thi Thi offer a more traditional sub, which I prefer. Price-wise, this sub is an awesome deal, especially considering Thai Thien convenient hours and prime location in the downtown core.
The next week, I tried the Charbroiled Pork Sub ($6.25). Damn, this one is even better than the cold cut. The meat was seared on the outside and juicy on the inside. The ratio of meat to vegetable was perfect. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy. Every single bite contained that delicious balance of savoury, sweet and spicy.
For an inner city sub, you can’t get a better deal. I was stuffed and blissfully happy for only six bucks. Hitting the Sauce gives That Thien two phat thumbs up. Thai Thien is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
For banh mi date #6, I checked out Xích Lô Street Food (pronounced sic-low). I’ve been wanting to check out this Vietnamese food stand in Eau Claire ever since John M posted it on Instagram. For this post, let’s listen to “Sick Love” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I ordered a Beef Sate Sub ($9) and a Cold Cut Sub ($9). While I waited, I chatted with Rick, the co-owner of Xích Lô. I learned the pate Rick makes is made from chicken liver and cognac. Everything in the subs is homemade except for the baguette, which Rick buys daily from a banh mi distributor. I noticed Xích Lô sells an assortment of steamed buns, which he informed me is one of his most popular dishes.
These subs are bigger than the norm. I can tell because I could barely hold all the subs in my hand. During my photo shoot, I lost some of the daikon and carrot garnish. What I won’t do for my blog.
Xích Lô’s cold cut sub is a cut above the norm. How good is the cold cut sub? This banh mi is so phenomenal that when I was eating my sub, I felt like I was making love to it. There’s something special about the cold cut sub and I think it’s the combination of the meats, pate and sauces. The pate is silky smooth, with a rich mellow flavour. The homemade mayonnaise is thick and decadent, and only adds to the richness of the pate.
I was impressed with the freshness and quality of the three meats. I counted four layers of cold cuts. The amount of meat to bread and vegetables was proportional. I noticed the drizzle of Rick’s soy based sauce permeated throughout each bite.
The daikon and carrot are finely minced, so you got all the pickled flavour but none of that trademark crunch. I still got that satisfying chomp from purple onions, jalapeños and dry peanuts. The sriracha gave a warm heat that countered the tartness of the pickled vegetables.
I tried a bite of L’s sub and I noticed the fragrance and flavour of lemongrass. The beef was sliced thin, and each piece was soft and tender. L usually only eats sate beef subs but he after tasting my sub, he prefers the cold cut.
For the smooth texture of cucumbers and crunch factor of the vegetables, I like Thi Thi and Obanhmi. Xích Lô baguette is light and crusty, but the soft chew of Saigon Deli‘s bread and the buttery crustiness of Trung Nguyen win by a margin. In terms of taste, Xích Lô cold cut meats tie with Saigon Deli and My Tho. Without a doubt, Xích Lô offers the best pate I’ve tried in Calgary.
Hitting the Sauce gives Xích Lô two phat thumbs up and this food stall is making it on my list of best restaurants in Calgary. Pro tip – note that due to all the sauces and the minced carrots and daikon, these subs are best eaten immediately. Xích Lô is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
L and I were running errands on Sunday. Since we were already in Inglewood, he suggested we go on banh mi date #5 of 19. Hubba hubba, he sure knows the way to my heart. For this post, let’s listen to “Can’t Remember to Forget You” by Shakira and Rihanna.
I saw Miss Foodie’s post on Hue Thuong in Forest Lawn. When I checked the online menu, I noticed Hue Thuong offers banh mi. I’m glad I called ahead of time because the restaurant was packed with customers enjoying steaming bowls of bun bo hue. The person who answered the phone was polite and customer service-oriented. When he realized I was in a rush and I was hesitant to wait 30 minutes, he said he would ask the chef to bump my order up. I ordered the Grilled Beef Sub ($6.55) and the Grilled Chicken Sub ($6.55). Currently, Hue Thuong is offering a promotion – each sub comes with a complimentary can of pop.
Despite the twenty-minute ride, both subs were warm when we arrived home. The baguette took on some condensation from the bag, but the bread was still good – light and chewy.
The chicken was tender, cut into nice meaty chunks. The pickled carrots and daikon were sweet. I could taste butter on the bread. I noticed both subs were lacking cucumber. No biggie, as I didn’t miss it with the addition of the sauteed white and green onions.
The beef was soft with a bit of a chew to it. I read Hue Thuong uses a homemade soy and hot sauce. We really enjoyed the spicy sauce in the meat as it reminded me of sate beef in pho. L preferred the beef, but I like both subs equally.
What Hue Thuong has over other banh mi shops is the meat taste like it is freshly prepared for every order. Pricewise, the sub with a pop is one of the best banh meal deals in Calgary. Sizewise, I found Hue Thuong more filling than Trung Nguyen but not as big as Thi Thi, To Me Subs or My Tho BBQ. Tastewise, Hue Thuong’s banh mi has more a restaurant flavour to it, similar to Pure Modern Asian Kitchen. I’m think this has to do how the meat is made in a restaurant kitchen compared to the heavy prep work involved in a banh mi shop.
I want to go back and try the bun bo hue, as well as the other dishes Miss Foodie recommended – the dumplings, rice cakes and baby clams. I have a feeling the food is similar to Song Huong, another of my favourite restaurants in Calgary. To be continued.
For date three of the 19 L owes me, I wanted a banh mi from Pure Kitchen Bar. Pure’s banh mi is pricier than other places, but each sub comes with fries, salad or soup. When L learned of the price difference, he argued this date should count as two because each sub was double the cost. I sensed immediately that he was full of piss and vinegar and ready to parley. I only fight when I know I’ll win, so I agreed with him and enjoyed the look of disappointment on his face. In light of Stampede, let’s listen to “Jolene” by Dolly Parton.
I ordered the Grilled Lemongrass Sub ($16) with fries and the Grilled Beef Sate Sub ($16) with a salad. When we returned home, I noticed the beef sub was squished. I tried to fluff it up for the picture but it was beyond repair.
Pure is heavy-handed with the sriracha aioli and sauces, which makes for a very drippy sub. Even before I unwrapped the beef sub, I could see the sate oil leaking out onto the wrapper. Despite the abundance of sauces, the bread was still crispy. The vegetables are different from the norm. The cilantro and cucumber is minced up, similar to a salsa. L doesn’t normally like cucumber but he didn’t mind Pure’s version because the skin was removed. I was pleased to see the carrots and daikon were pickled.
Both subs were so awesome, we didn’t like one more than the other. I did find the beef sate spicier and sweeter than the chicken. The creamy cheese in the chicken sub was more noticeable than in the beef sub. I could tell the meats were grilled. L raved about the charred flavour from the slices of chicken and beef.
L is a fan of the parmesan garlic fries. The seasoning is lemony with a hint of sugar. He said the sweetness in the seasoning reminds him of Wow Chicken’s bulgogi fries, but better because Pure’s version is more subtle. L noted that even the ketchup was different and tastes like a homemade sweet chili sauce.
I enjoyed the salad – an Asian-style slaw with shredded lettuce, daikon and carrots. I found the salad light and refreshing, a nice contrast to the richness of the sauces in the subs.
To date, this is L’s favourite Vietnamese sub because of the smoky flavour of the meats and the creative flavour profile of the toppings and sauce. I can’t compare Pure Kitchen Bar to the other banh mi shops because Pure’s subs are a different beast. Pure puts in a lot of thought and care into every ingredient. I will say that once you factor in the salad or fries, Pure’s subs are close to the price of Kim Anh, Thi Thi, and Trung Nguyen. Quantity wise, Pure’s sub and side combo are more filling than any other banh mi spot, except To Me.
Pro tip – if you call to place your order, you get 10% off your bill. Four banh mi dates down and 15 more to go! Next up? I’m leaning to Paper Lantern.
L wanted to knock off number two of the 19 banh mi dates he promised me. Since I was already in Inglewood getting a dermal infusion, I suggested he order our dinner from Obanhmi in Dover. I specifically asked L for the classic assorted sub ($5.50) and not the deluxe assorted ($7.50) sub. The deluxe version has pork belly and that would put my Noom app in a tizzy. For this post, let’s listen to “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers.
When L picked me up, he asked me if I knew banh mi means bread in English. I said no, I just assumed banh mi was a Vietnamese sandwich. I asked him how he knew and he said there are informative signs posted all over the shop. He smugly added that while I asked for an assorted sub, it was actually called a cold cut. I bit back the urge to tell him no one likes a know-it-all but then I realized it actually turned me on that he knew more about Vietnamese subs than me.
L relished his Beef Sate ($7.50) sub. He thought the beef was flavourful, and not in the generic peanutty way. He noted the beef wasn’t evenly distributed, so one side of the sub had lots of beef and the other side had barely any. We both liked how the carrots, daikon, and onions were pickled. Each vegetable was crunchy and wet, tart and sweet at the same time.
My cold cut contained four layers of assorted meats. The baguette was delightful – the interior was light and fluffy and the outside crackled when I bite into it. The pate was subtle and buttery. I liked how the cucumber was sliced into thin, crisp ribbons. This is a saucy sub – the juices from the pickled vegetables mingled with the mayonnaise and pate.
How does Obanhmi compare to all the other banh mi joints? Obanhmi gives more meat than Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi, but not as much as Saigon Deli. However, Obanhmi is more generous than Saigon Deli with the butter, pate and vegetables. Size wise, Obahmi subs are bigger than Kim Anh and Trung Nguyen but not as stuffed as To Me Sub or My Thou BBQ. Personally, I thought the pickled vegetables and crusty baguette give Obanhmi a slight edge over some of their competitors.
I’d rank this banh mi up there with all the other heavy hitters – Saigon Deli, Banh Mi Nhu Y, Trung Nguyen, My Thou, and Thi Thi. Pro tip – sign up for the point system. Accumulate ten points and you get a free sub. Hitting the Sauce gives Obanhmi two phat thumbs up.
L and I made a deal. He thinks the chandelier in our powder room is gaudy. I see no reason to replace it but his constant complaining finally got to me. I negotiated 19 banh mi dates in exchange for a replacement. Initially I wanted 20 dates, but L kept trying to get the number down. I told him that he wanted the chandelier switched out more than I wanted the subs, and if he was a smart man, which I know he is, he would pay my price. For this post, let’s listen to “Price Tag” by Jessie J and B.o.B.
I should have placed conditions in our contract because it turned out our banh mi dates include “fusion” subs. I didn’t realize L wanted a say in where we ate. I just assumed I would be picking each venue. For banh mi date #1, L wanted to try To Me Sub – a popular drive-in spot on Macleod Trail.
I’ve read that To Me gets so busy with customers, drivers block the traffic on Macleod Trail. Pro tip – if you don’t want to get honked, pull around and wait in line via the parking lot so you aren’t disrupting the traffic flow.
We were lucky. There was only one car ahead of us, so we waited less than five minutes. I ordered Shrimp Salad Rolls ($5), Mango Bubble Tea ($5), Satay Beef Sub ($6), and a Coconut Chicken Sub ($6).
The mango bubble tea was about the size of a large slurpee. The frozen mango puree was sweet and syrupy. To Me sells one of the cheapest bubble teas in town.
The salad rolls are worth ordering again. Each salad roll contained three pieces of shrimp, crunchy julienned lettuce and vermicelli. The wrapper itself was soft and it tasted better than the salad rolls I make at home. I liked the dipping sauce – smooth, tangy and a touch sweet.
Size wise, these subs were as big as My Tho BBQ. When we got home, the bread was warm and soft from the heat of the filling. L appreciated the generous amount of cilantro in his sub. The beef was tender, sliced thin and piled high. The flavours in the beef sate were more subtle than Thi Thi or Trung Nguyen. L wished the vegetables were pickled, but for the price and portion, he’s not complaining. The portion was so large, L and I could only eat half our subs.
The chicken in my sub reminded me of a Thai yellow curry. The heat was mild and the flavours were subdued. I thought I could taste some cheese in the sauce. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy. The ingredients in the subs are so approachable that even people who typically shy away from traditional Vietnamese food would enjoy the food at To Me.
I’ve been decluttering my house and selling random items on Varage. As of Tuesday, I made a whopping $15. To celebrate my windfall, I informed L that I was buying lunch.
Eatswithminnie has been posting about MyMy Sub, a newish Vietnamese takeout place by SAIT. When she told me that My My’s cold cut is better than Saigon Deli, I had to see it for myself. For this post, let’s listen to “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.
I took Minnieeats’ advice and called to place my order. Pro tip – there’s plenty of reserved parking at the back of MyMy Sub. I ordered a Cold Cut Sub ($8) for myself and L a Charbroiled Pork Vermicelli ($12). I could tell from the weight of the bag that the portions were big.
I was so excited to try my sub that I cursed every single car ahead of us that made a left turn. Finally, when we got home, I frantically tore the wrapping paper off my cold cut sub. Lo and behold – this was a real beauty.
The bread is excellent – glossy and crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The assorted meats were mild in flavour and cut into thick slabs. The texture of the meat was spongy and reminded me of the shrimp balls I eat in Chinese hotpot.
The only vegetables that are pickled are the carrots. The onions and cucumbers were sliced into coarse chunks. I noticed MyMy puts green peppers in their subs, which is unusual. The pate was nice – not overly metallic yet pungent enough to taste it in every second bite. I enjoyed the sauciness of the mayonnaise.
L enjoyed his dish. The charbroiled pork in L’s meal was salty, with a texture similar to the grilled pork meatball at Cuty Restaurant. The noodles were rounder and thicker than the standard vermicelli noodles. The portion was so generous L could only eat half his serving. I noticed there was an absence of bean sprouts. The spring rolls didn’t travel well. By time we ate, the spring rolls were soft. The nuac cham (dipping sauce) tasted strongly of fish sauce and vinegar.
In the bread department, MyMy’s baguette is one of the best in the city and comparable to Trung Nyguen. Size wise, the baguette is bigger than Kim Anh and Trung Nyguen. Compared to Saigon Deli, MyMy is more expensive, though price is moot because the latter adds more vegetables, meat and pate into their subs. MyMy’s sub has more meat than Trung Nyguen, Thi Thi and Kim Anh’s cold cut sub. Flavour and texture wise, I do prefer Saigon Deli’s assorted meats over MyMy. For pate, MyMy ranks higher than Kim Anh and Saigon Deli but lower than My Tho BBQ, Trung Nyguen, and Thi Thi. For vegetables, I prefer the sweet pickled carrots at Trung Nyguen, Thi Thi, and Kim Anh over MyMy. I also favour the daintiness of the cucumber slices from Thi Thi and Trung Nyguen over MyMy’s quartered pieces.
MyMy food taste more homemade than the other banh mi stores, as the flavours are simple and wholesome. It’s always nice to try something new and if you like assorted subs, I would give this place a go. Another reason to check them out is their more unique dishes.
One interesting item on the menu that I haven’t seen before is the Mixed Rice Paper ($8.50), a popular dish in Vietnam. For vegetarians looking for a good sub – try the veggie version. Wtigley said the bean curd makes for a particularly good vegetarian sub or salad roll. Either way, if you are looking for something different, you won’t be disappointed.