Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Deli · Restaurants · Vietnamese

My Tho BBQ – Banh Mi

Until the COVID numbers go down, L and I are only doing takeout. One place that has been on my radar is My Tho BBQ. When we drove up to the Vietnamese deli, I was so excited that I squeezed L’s thigh. For this post, let’s listen to “You Need To Calm Down” by Taylor Swift.

I wanted to try three subs: Sate Beef ($6), Roasted Pork ($6) and Assorted ($6). I specifically asked for pate in my assorted because I read online that you have to request it. However, I was informed by the staff that pate automatically comes with the assorted sub.

My Tho has been a family-operated business since 1989. Even though there was a big order in front of me and customers after me, great care was put into making my subs. I noticed that compared Kim Anh Sub, Saigon Deli, Banh Mi Nhu Y and Thi Thi, My Tho gives the most vegetables.

I was surprised to see the generous amount of roasted pork in my sub. The meat was still warm and the crunchy skin was caramelized. I found the roasted pork rich and heavy, and it reminded me of Chinese BBQ.

FoodKarma tried both the assorted and the roasted pork, and she preferred the latter. One thing to note – the heady flavour of the roasted pork dominates the entire sub. If you like roasted pork and a lot of meat, you’ll enjoy this sub.

The sate beef reminded me a little of roast beef. I’ve never had a beef sate with the meat sliced so thin. The beef wasn’t heavily coated in a sauce, but it was still really tasty. L liked the addition of peanuts, which were dry and sweet. The portion of homemade butter mayonnaise was generous. If you don’t like mayonnaise, make sure to tell the staff.

L prefers My Tho’s sate beef over Saigon Deli’s version but not as much as Thi Thi sate beef or Kim Anh’s lemongrass beef. I liked the simplicity of My Thou’s sate beef. I would order this again, but the assorted sub is my favourite.

The meats in the assorted sub look artisanal, with some slices so delicate, it reminds me of prosciutto. Out of all the places I’ve tried so far, My Thou’s cold cut meats are the most unique. Saigon Deli’s cold cuts are the thickest, and the most hearty.

I’m a big fan of My Thou’s pate. For me, this was a Goldilocks moment. The pate wasn’t metallic or too subtle, it was just right. I like the creamy texture and peppery notes.

The carrots tasted like they were lightly pickled, and the onions looked like they were marinated. The bread was more flaky than Saigon Deli, and more akin to Kim Anh’s drier sub. My Thou’s cucumbers were cut into quarters, unlike Thi Thi’s dainty ribbons.

Another thing that sets this deli apart from the others is My Tho sells Vietnamese charcuterie platters. I plan to pick up a platter for make your own banh mi. My Tho is open seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Check them out! The assorted sub ranks up there with all the other banh mi heavy hitters in Calgary.

Taken without permission from My Tho BBQ.
17th Ave · Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Restaurants · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Kim Anh Vietnamese Submarines

L and I were out running errands when he suggested we pick up something for dinner. I suggested either banh mi or a shawarma. Since we were already on 17th Ave, we stopped by Kim Anh Vietnamese Submarines. For this post, let’s play “Cool” by Gwen Stefani.

I’ve eaten here at least six times and each time I find the service fast and friendly. Kim Anh sells a variety of Vietnamese dishes, such as vermicelli, spring rolls and salad rolls. I would recommend sticking to what their are known for – banh mi.

I’ve tried the Lemongrass Chili Chicken, Lemongrass Chili Beef, Cold Cut, Korean BBQ Pork, and Satay Chicken. My favourite is the Lemongrass Chili Beef ($8.75, + .50 cheese). However, I ordered the Assorted Cold Cuts ($7.45, +.50 cheese) for myself in order to do a proper comparison to Saigon Deli and Banh Mi Nhu Y. Pate and cheese are an extra charge.

When we arrived home, I cut up our subs in half and took my obligatory pictures. As I finished squeezing L’s sub together for a shot, I looked up and caught his expression. He looked patient, but it was so practiced, like he was resigned to never eating a sandwich without a production. I felt bad for him and then I comforted myself knowing that this time, I paid for dinner.

The lemongrass chili beef was spicy and saucy. The tang of the lemony herb was dominant in the beef. L liked the texture that the crunchy peanuts added to the sub. I noticed Kim Anh doesn’t overload the sub with cilantro. If I had ordered the beef sub for myself, I would request pate because it just adds another dimension of flavour.

The cold cut combo was packed with meats and carrots. The pickled carrots were sweet and wet. The flavour of the pate was much subtle than Saigon Deli and Banh Mi Nhu Y. My friend Asian Persuasion doesn’t like it when the pate is too strong because she complains it taste metallic. If you are like Asian Persuasion, you’ll like Kim Anh’s milder pate. Compared to Kim Anh, Saigon Deli’s cold cut sub is heavier on the meats.

The jalapeños were so hot, they burned a little on my tongue. The cheese is the type that sticks to the roof of your mouth. The taste of the white cheese reminded me a little of Laughing Cow cheese. I like the cheese in the lemongrass beef chili sub but not as much in the cold cut. In the beef sub, the cheese blends in but with the cold cut, the cheese sticks out.

The subs at Kim Anh cost more than their competitors in Forest Lawn, but that’s justifiable because of the higher rent on 17th Ave. I noticed that the bread at Kim Anh is shorter in length and more crumbly than Saigon Deli and Banh Mi Nhu Y. I like how Kim Anh pickles their carrots and the extra pizzazz in their lemongrass subs. These subs are smaller but there is no shortage in flavour or ingredients.

For an inner-city banh mi, Kim Anh does it right. I’ve noticed when I used a third-party food delivery, the price is within 29 cents to the in-store menu, and the portions are the same for pick up. It’s also the only Vietnamese sandwich shop I know of that is open until 12 a.m., and even later on a Saturday. Hitting the Sauce gives Kim Anh two fat thumbs up.

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Deli · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Banh Mi Nhu Y – Assorted Sub

I’ve been on a banh mi rampage. Lately, all I think about and all I crave are Vietnamese sandwiches. For this post, let’s listen to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift.

On Sunday, I wanted to try Banh Mi Nhu Y in Forest Lawn. There were two people ahead of me, but each person was ordering bags of subs. When it was my turn, I ordered a Satay Beef Sub – Banh Mi Bo Sate ($7) and an Assorted Cold Cut Sub – Banh Mi Thjt Nguoi ($6).

When an employee cut into the bread, the outer crust flaked apart, showcasing a soft, airy crumb. I asked for our subs to be toasted, but I’m sure it would be just as good untoasted.

A lot of love is put into each sandwich. For L’s satay beef sub, the sauce was gently ladled on top of the beef. Pepper and peanuts were carefully sprinkled on, and then drizzled with another sauce.

My sub was generously smeared with a yellow butter and a dark pate. Three meats were added – simmered pork, head cheese, and ham. My cold cut sub was delicious. The bread was light and crackled when I bit into it. The meats had a nice chew to it. The pate was thick and smooth. The vegetables were fresh and unpickled. I didn’t find the jalapeño spicy. The heat level was mild and the pepper was juicy and crunchy like a green pepper.

I tried a bite of L’s sate beef sub. I liked how the satay sauce mingled in with the yellow butter. The addition of peanuts added a little woodiness to the sub. I enjoyed the black pepper because it added a surprisingly sharp note. I liked L’s sub so much that if I came back, I just might order the sate beef instead of my cold cut combo.

I asked L to compare Banh Mi Nhu Y with Saigon Deli. He said both tasted the same to him.  I vehemently disagree. I thought the bread at Banh Mi Nhu was lighter and Saigon Deli’s was chewier. The pate at Banh Mi Nhu was creamier and not as metallic. The meats at Saigon Deli have a rougher texture. Banh Mi Nhu is more generous with the butter/mayonnaise and pate than Saigon Deli. What I love about both stores is that you can tell the pate and mayonnaise is homemade, which gives it a totally deeper flavour profile than more processed spreads.

I’m going to continue on my banh mi rampage until L gets tired of humoring my weekend sub adventures. Next up, I’m going to post about the lemongrass beef sate and cold cut combo with pate from Kim Anh Submarine. To be continued.

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Deli · Vegetarian

Saigon Deli – Assorted Meat Sub

Jacuzzi asked me why all my reviews are positive in Calgary and more negative in Vancouver. I prefer focusing on what I like about a restaurant over what I didn’t enjoy. As for the difference in tone between the two cities, let me just say your company does influence the overall experience.

There’s one spot in Calgary that I wasn’t initially keen on, but after my second visit, I’m happy I gave it a second chance. For this post, let’s listen to “All The Time” by the Bahamas.

Saigon Deli is one of the most popular banh mi shops in Calgary. The foodies that really know their Vietnamese cuisine swear by it. Three years ago, I tried the chicken and beef sate sub at Saigon Deli. I wasn’t impressed. However, after seeing Foodkarma, MissFoodie, and JustaYYCFoodie post their pictures on Instagram, I realized I ordered the wrong thing. The banh mi to order at Saigon Deli is the Assorted Meat Sub ($6).

When I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, three staffers were furiously filling orders. Service is efficient and considerate. I don’t know how the staff can keep track of all the orders, as each request is verbally called out. One customer wanted only half a sub with pate. I wanted three assorted, two toasted with one without cilantro and the other with no cucumber, and the last one untoasted with no cilantro. Though there was clearly an overwhelming number of orders, the staff made sure my order was right. For example, when I mentioned I wanted one sub not toasted, I was asked if I wanted the vegetables on the side.

The pate has a rougher texture and a stronger, richer flavour than Thi Thi, Trung Nguyen and Kim Anh. The meats were thickly cut and flavourful. The toasted bread was crunchy, but not so hard it cuts into the roof of your mouth. With the smear of yellow butter and the smell of the pungent white onions, I found this sandwich rustic and satisfying.

In my books, Saigon Deli assorted sub ties with Thi Thi, even though the sandwiches are different from each other. Thi Thi uses pickled vegetables, and their pate is whipped and melts in your mouth. The cold cuts in Thi Thi’s sub are also thinner and more subtle in flavour. I also find Thi Thi is heavier on the mayonnaise and with the addition of melted white cheese, makes for a decadent treat. Saigon Deli’s cold cut is more meat focused – the amount provided in each sub is more generous than all its competitors.

Here’s a pro tip for both places. Ask for your sub untoasted and for the vegetables on the side. That way when you get home, the sub won’t get soggy and you get extra vegetables. Just look at the picture above of the first sub I ate immediately after ordering at Saigon Deli and the version below of the sub I reheated the next day at home.

This Wednesday is L’s and my first date anniversary. I’m planning on ordering banh mi from Thi Thi to celebrate. While I’m a big fan of Saigon Deli, Thi Thi is closer to us and L loves the sate beef sub. Hopefully Thi Thi won’t sell out by the time we finish work.

Banh Mi · Restaurants · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Thi Thi – Chinatown Institution

Divine Offering met me in Chinatown for lunch. She has an obsession with sandwiches and was craving a banh mi from Thi Thi. We arrived at 12:00 p.m. and waited in line for 23 minutes. Sometimes the line doesn’t move because a customer orders five or ten subs for their friends. Personally, I think Thi Thi should ban this unfair practice and enforce stricter rules when ordering.

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Even though I haven’t eaten at Thi Thi for three years, the owner’s son still recognizes me. He asked me why I haven’t been coming around. I told him it was because I bring my lunch to work. What I didn’t tell him was that when I was a frequent customer, I put on too much weight. The owner interjected and suggested that I should walk more. He observed that the Japanese are so slim because they walk everywhere and don’t drive. He pointed to my sub and asked me if he should make it slimmer. I wanted to say, “Hell no! Leave my banh mi alone! It’s been three lonely years!” Instead, I pursed my lips and indignantly shook my head. For this post, let’s listen to “Let it beby The Beatles.

I ordered the Thi Thi special ($7) – cold cut meat combo with a sprinkling of sate beef. I asked for pate and no mayonnaise. The owner toasts the sub with all the meats before topping it up with vegetables.  I asked for all the toppings but no cilantro. I always request two chili peppers. The owner cuts it up fresh for each order.  In every couple of bites, you get a spicy mouthful.

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The sandwich is the size of Subway foot long. The bread is warm and crusty. The secret to Thi Thi’s deliciousness is the pate mayonnaise – the sauce is both light in texture but rich in flavour. I love how the pate oozes through the air pockets in the bread.

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The vegetables are fresh and crunchy. The cucumber is cut into long thin ribbons. The carrots are pickled and add a contrasting tartness to the savoury flavours of the meats. I like how the bread and meats are warm but the vegetables are cool.

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I tried to munch as slowly as possible because Divine Offering is a leisurely eater. She says it usually takes her half an hour to eat a sandwich, and that’s fast for her. When she realized I had to get back to the office, she started cramming the last quarter of her sub into her mouth. She looked uncomfortable but even when she was scarfing down her food, she was still really slow. At one point I thought she was going to choke. I should have told her to take her time, but I remembered how my colleague once jokingly referred to me as Cratchit. Thanks Divine Offering for making sure I got back to work on time.

Note: Cash only.

Thi Thi Vietnamese Submarine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Saigon Deli

I’ve been meaning to check out Saigon Deli for ages. Asian Persuasion told me she’s been eating here since high school. She recommended the beef or chicken bahn mi (Vietnamese sub). Asian Persuasion and I both love cold cut subs, but she told me to not order it at Saigon Deli because they put too much pate in their subs and the metallic flavour is strong. For this post, let’s listen to Yellow Submarine by the Beatles.

Saigon Deli is a tiny store in a strip mall. Cash only. This place is busy! There was a constant stream of customers. We only had to wait about five minutes.  Three employees assembled subs in the front while two employees prepped vegetables in the back of the store. L was surprised to see the butter jiggled like jello. I informed him it wasn’t butter, it was mayonnaise.

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The flavour of L’s chicken was cold and it tasted off. The texture of the chicken was hard and dry. We thought the mayonnaise didn’t really add much flavour to the sub. The meats in both our subs were minced up. He gave his sub 2.5 out of 5.

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The cucumber, carrots, and onions tasted fresh but they weren’t pickled like Thi Thi (Chinatown location). The jalapeños added a juicy, non-spicy crunch. The nuttiness and dryness from the crushed peanuts contrasted with the sweet, sauciness of the beef. I would give my beef sub 3.5 out of 5.

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The baguette was light and chewy. I prefer the toastier and airier bread at Trung Nguyen. I also prefer the mayonnaise from Thi Thi and Trung Nguyen over Saigon Deli. The vegetables at Saigon Deli taste fresher and crunchier than its competitors – possibly because the vegetables aren’t pickled? Saigon Deli wins in the price department – six bucks for a meat sub is cheap. Plus, the portions of vegetables and meat are generous.

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The reviews on Saigon Deli are high, so I think we might have come on an off day. L and I agreed that we wouldn’t come out of our way to get subs from here again. There are too many other restaurants I want to hit in Forest Lawn. Next on my list – La Cay Subs, Noodle World, Noodle King and Pho Dau Bo.

Saigon Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Comfort food · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Vancouver/Richmond · Vietnamese

Banh Mi Très Bon – Richmond

I was sick after Beep Beep’s birthday dinner. I knew it wasn’t from the dinner as I was nauseous much earlier in the day. When I woke up on Sunday, I hung out with Naomi until Beep Beep picked me up to visit my father Ludwig and then to the airport.

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On the way to see my father, I received an email from him saying not to bother dropping by because he wouldn’t be home. Ludwig wanted to go to the mall instead with my brother Jacuzzi. Alrighty then. Beep Beep suggested we eat something nourishing before my flight. I picked Banh Mi Tres Bon in Richmond because I felt like pho and Banh Mi Tres Bon’s version is MSG free. For this post, let’s listen to Fever by Peggy Lee.

The cafe was busy. We were given a number and waited until a table opened up. Customers were also ordering take-out. The employees were working as hard and pleasantly as they could, though you could tell they were in the weeds. Our orders were messed up twice, but fixed immediately with a smile and a sincere apology.

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Beep Beep and I shared the Banh Mi Jambon ($7) – a cold cut baguette with warm slices of pork belly and creamy pate. The filling is sparser than I’m use to in Calgary but the intense flavours made up for the sheer quantity. The baguette was light and airy on the inside and crusty on the outside. I would order this again.

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I tried one of Beep Beep’s Salad Rolls ($6). I liked the quality of shrimp – it was bright orange and actually had flavour. The sauce was mild tasting, crunchy from the addition of crushed nuts and spicy from the pool of sriracha sauce.

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The showstopper was the Pho ($12). The golden broth was slightly sweet and felt so nuturing, like it was breathing life back into my body. The beef meatballs tasted clean and when you bite into it, you could feel the bouncy texture. I could tell the slices of  beef tenderloin were high quality. The best of the bowl was the addition of bone marrow. The marrow was this rich, mellow decadence that melted in my mouth. The noodles could have been more al dente, but that’s just my preference.

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I witnessed a little drama. The customer next to me threw a nasty hissy fit. The server dropped something and then picked it up and replaced it. The customer insisted that the server did not replace it and after arguing back and forth, hissed with pure venom, “Just remove it. Remove it. Just go.” Her eyes narrowed and her face contorted with such ugly rage, she looked like she was going to have a ‘nut fit’ like Heather Cho. It made me think of workplace mistreatment and the abuse servers face in restaurants. I wish I said something to the customer but instead I told the owner in front of the Heather Cho wannabe that I loved her restaurant and the pho was amazing. If that girl gets so upset over a napkin, I shudder to think how she would handle a real life problem.

Unlike the other reviewers on Zomato and Yelp, I did not find the prices expensive. Yes, it’s a bit more than the hole in the wall on Main Street, but the quality is so much better. The portions were generous and I didn’t get that thirsty feeling I sometimes get after eating pho. Hitting the Sauce gives Banh Mi Tres Bon two fat thumbs up.

Bánh Mi Très Bon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Banh Mi · Restaurants · Vietnamese

The Bake Chef Co

I visited the U of C recently to see my optometrist. It’s weird to go back to my old university. I forgot how slowly students walk, unhurried and without any gumption. For this post, let’s listen to something that puts more pep into my step.

When I studied and worked at the U, I would frequent Noodle and Grill Express, OPA! and The Bake Chef. The Bake Chef was my go-to spot for hot dog buns and Vietnamese subs. For around $5.00 I would get a vegetarian sub that was much tastier than Subway. I remembered how light and crusty the bread was, slathered with butter and other sauces, heavy with carrots, cucumbers and shredded lettuce. I had a hankering for a sub so I stopped by after my appointment.

The selection of subs have expanded. Before you could choose between sate beef, sate chicken, and vegetarian subs. Now you can get tuna, pizza, traditional cold cut combo and some other types too. I ordered the cold cut combo. The price was $7+.

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The bread was doughy and yeasty. The vegetables were tired and sparse. There was only one layer of meat. My cold cut combo lacked the flavour explosion I get at my new go to sub spots – Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi – in Chinatown. Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi charge $5.50 for their assorted sub.

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I posted my disappointment on my Instagram account. As you can see, several people defended Bake Chef. Lol – I love the love that the Bake Chef gets from its fans. Based on the comments, I must have gone on an off day. That or perhaps my taste buds have changed over time. I’ll suspend judgement until I get another chance to try it again.

The Bake Chef Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Green Cilantro- Banh Mi

I purchase my wine and beer at the Highlander at Richmond Place. One of the staffers there told me that she’s addicted to Green Cilantro, a Vietnamese take-out shop a few doors away. I’ve been before and I wasn’t impressed, but after being informed that new management took over, I gave Green Cilantro another chance.

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The new manager is a real sweetheart and he likes my dog, so big bonus points right there. He took over Green Cilantro since January 5, 2017. Business has been growing too. He had to open up later that day because of a large catering order. I learned that if you order a certain amount, you get 10% off the bill and Green Cilantro will deliver too.

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I ordered a chicken sate sub ($7.50) with cucumber, onions, peanuts and carrots. The bread was airy and fluffy. While it was toasted, it didn’t scratch the top part of my mouth. The vegetables aren’t pickled like at Thi Thi in Chinatown. Also, I don’t think Green Cilantro offers pate mayo.

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I appreciated the care that went into making my sub. The result was a tasty and light sandwich, still warm after a 10 minute walk in the freezing cold. The sate sauce and mayo soaked nicely into the bread.

If you live in the hood, check out Green Cilantro. This is one business that deserves our support. Besides subs, pho and vermecelli dishes are offered here as well.

 

Green Cilantro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Five Spice – Vietnamese Subs

My brother-in-law Uncle Ben and his partner, Veggie Girl really like Five Spice. Uncle Ben reports that the owners are meticulous in the sub preparation, making sure that the toppings are arranged just so. They often pick up Vietnamese subs or eat in for pho. Veggie Girl can never finish her sub, but she eats like a bird.

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For Uncle Ben’s birthday, the family met at his house. Bobbino ordered 11 subs and some homemade dumplings. If you ask, Five Spice will deliver too. Uncle Ben got a kick out of the fact Five Spice prints the labels for their subs, for example, Tofu Sub or Pork Sub. He’s really into the details, and Five Spice delivers on that front.

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You can tell by the filling that it wasn’t made in a factory. The vegetarian version had corn and bits of tofu in it. The pork dumplings were more substantial. Both versions looked deep-fried or cooked in a lot of oil. I would pass on the dumplings and try another appetizer, but perhaps I’m just spoiled by Chuen May. FYI – I LOVE CHUEN MAY!

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I tried the vegetarian sub, the chicken sub and the beef sub. My favourite was the beef sub because the beef was the most flavourful, saucy and juicy. The chicken was a little dry and I thought the meat was skimpier than the beef. The vegetarian sub has marinated tofu in it. I liked the combination of vegetables and the noticeable kick from the jalapeños. The bread was crusty with a good chew to it. This is one of the most filling subs I’ve consumed, even bigger than Thi Thi , which I adore (as does Mayor Nenshi, based on the number of pictures of him at Thi Thi). The price is awesome too for the quantity and quality.

Funny story. My boss is promoting businesses in Montgomery and Bowness for free, as a way to help out local businesses. No strings attached. I called Five Spice a week earlier to ask them if they wanted to be advertised at no cost. The owner responded he was fine for now and didn’t need it. The food is dang good and cheap. I guess they have enough business from word of mouth. In any case, give this place a try. When I return, I want to try the pho, pad thai, the take-away frozen food and of course, more of the subs.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Five Spice Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato