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Nhu Lan, Owner Ha Lu's House of Banh Mi in Saigon East, Eden Center

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A visit to Nhu Lan, which is hidden among the innards of the shopping center revealed a just okay banh mi, in my opinion. It was warm, and the pate was solid.

But I don't get why all these places use the same crappy sub rolls from the school cafeteria. They're way too wide and you end up having to move the filling around or take multiple bites across to get at at all the flavors. Narrower, more caramelized bread is the way to go. Given how large a proportion of the sandwich is bread, it should be taken more into consideration.

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A visit to Nhu Lan, which is hidden among the innards of the shopping center revealed a just okay banh mi, in my opinion. It was warm, and the pate was solid.

But I don't get why all these places use the same crappy sub rolls from the school cafeteria. They're way too wide and you end up having to move the filling around or take multiple bites across to get at at all the flavors. Narrower, more caramelized bread is the way to go. Given how large a proportion of the sandwich is bread, it should be taken more into consideration.

I also just went to Nhu Lan after reading about it in the recent Washington Post article:

"The Banh Mi of My Dreams" by Walter Nicholls on washingtonpost.com

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the quality of the bread there, it had some texture to it and was much better than the soft rolls most of the sandwiches I've gotten from the other places in the Eden Center use. What I can't get past is the quality of the filling. It's all very tasty, and I love the combination of meat and sharp, spicy flavors from the cilantro, chiles, and dressing, but I'm consistently underwhelmed by the quality of the meats used. I'd happily pay a few dollars more for not having to deal with gristle and fatty chunks of meat.

That said, Nhu Lan was the best of the bunch over there in the Eden Center IMO.

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Agreed totally--went there Saturday before last and while it *was* great fun to be in Eden Center to witness the Tet-related fireworks display (almost lost an eye, but loved all the ruckus!), i was really disappointed by the Banh mi. The flavors seemed all on-target (as I'd heard described) but the numerous large and inedible chunks of gristle I have to remove from my mouth put me off my meal considerably. I don't mean to be a weeny about this--but is that normal with banh mi? If so, I'm not a-goin' back.

I also just went to Nhu Lan after reading about it in the recent Washington Post article
 
"The Banh Mi of My Dreams" by Walter Nicholls on washingtonpost.com

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the quality of the bread there, it had some texture to it and was much better than the soft rolls most of the sandwiches I've gotten from the other places in the Eden Center use. What I can't get past is the quality of the filling. It's all very tasty, and I love the combination of meat and sharp, spicy flavors from the cilantro, chiles, and dressing, but I'm consistently underwhelmed by the quality of the meats used. I'd happily pay a few dollars more for not having to deal with gristle and fatty chunks of meat.

That said, Nhu Lan was the best of the bunch over there in the Eden Center IMO.

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I like their banh mi's but I also like the ones at Song Long Deli (more meat in the meatball banh mi).

There was a Facebook post recently which asked which Eden Center store had the best banh mi.  This list will comprise my future new places to try:  Nhu Lan Sandwich Shop, Huong Binh,  Bí¡nh mí¬ số 1.  Nhu Lan was the winner.  Banh Ta and Song Long had many votes too.

This is exactly why you should eschew the advice of the unkempt masses. :) And, truth be told, in this case, Walter Nicholls - it's a really well-written article; unfortunately, it was completely wrong.

Although I haven't been in years, I have Nhu Lan ranked *last* in East Falls Church in the Virginia Dining Guide. For it to now compare with Bí¡nh Ta, there would have needed to be a complete overhaul, from ownership-on-down - maybe there was, but if there wasn't, I advise you that my experience there was simply awful, and if I remember correctly, I tried several different items.

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I went to Nhu Lan for the first time today.  I always get the xiu mai (meatball) banh mi wherever I go.  It was pretty good, similar to Banh Ta.  I can see switching between Song Long and Nhu Lan for a change of pace.  However, they need some congeniality lessons.  Really unfriendly woman there.  I also asked for a plain baguette and she charged me $1.  Then she changed her mind and didn't have any to spare (couldn't spare a square) and threw the dollar back at me.  So I went to Kim Phuong and got a much better baguette for 65 cents.  So there.  BTW, the people at Banh Ta and Song Long are super-friendly and could teach Nhu Lan lady a thing or two about customer service.

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Banh Ta/Little Viet Garden wasn't selling sandwiches when we stopped by around 6 pm yesterday, and we had promised to buy some for our babysitter so this was the nearest option in a pinch.  We also got one for ourselves -- the #5, shredded steam pork and pork skin -- and it was fine.  In fairness, we didn't eat it until this afternoon.  A bit meager on the fillings, which had the right sweet/sour flavor profile at least.

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