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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

When the Pork Hits the Fan

While all of us in the UMB community obviously respect and enjoy all that the campus cafeteria does for us, sometimes we just feel like grabbing something off campus. Within walking distance from JFK station, on Dorchester Avenue, are two Vietnamese sandwich shops that are quickly gaining favorable reputations.

I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell is a Vietnamese sandwich?” That’s okay, because I thought the same thing. I took it upon myself to take the food-bullet and let you know what to expect when you’re expecting… a Vietnamese sandwich.

Banh Mi Ba Le is not for the faint of heart. Walking into this place can be perplexing and intimidating. There doesn’t seem to be anything remotely resembling your high school line at the cafeteria. You sort of have to shuffle your way to the front counter and grab the attention of the people behind it. Once there, don’t consider yourself victorious because if you don’t speak Vietnamese you might have some trouble ordering. Well, at least I did. Be prepared to repeat yourself and communicate by pointing at pictures.

Once I was able to place the correct order they quickly made it and sent me on my way. They don’t seem to be much for small talk with customers, though the employees talk constantly amongst themselves. This can get annoying because it seems like they are intentionally ignoring you. But my biggest gripe with Banh Mi Ba Le is the fact that you have to get in a completely different line to order specialty drinks.

As far as the food goes, I would describe it as . . . interesting. The menu isn’t terribly diverse in terms of the sandwiches they make. But what the subs lack in presentation they make up for with flavor. My shredded pork sandwich, or a Number Six (which I had to say about six times), was unique. It was fresh and tangy with spicy undertones; I can honestly say I’ve never had a sandwich like it before.

My favorite thing about this place is the amazing drinks that they make; I was literally sad when I finished it because I wanted more. They make their bubble tea with fresh ingredients and have a decent variety. Also, every item on the menu is an affordable three dollars; can’t beat those prices.

The thing I liked least about my experience at Bahn Mi Ba Le is the lack of seating inside. The place isn’t so much a restaurant as it is a deli. I believe their motto is “Get Your Shit and Get Out,” because nothing about this place invites you to linger after receiving your order.

The Vietnamese lunch destination down the street, King Do Baguette, is Banh Mi Ba Le’s arch nemesis. When you walk into King Do you’re immediately struck by the laid back vibe. Plenty of tables are spread-out on a relatively large dining room. The place can look a little dreary but would liven up with the proper company. When I went the lady taking the orders at the front counter spoke English, which was a plus for me, and everyone seemed very friendly and helpful.

The menu is displayed on large flat screens, and scrolling dishes catch your eye on the twin televisions. The menus are similar, with slightly more variety at King Do Baguettes. I ordered basically the same sandwich and drink, except this time I was able to eat at a table instead of cramming my face while crammed in my car.

The sandwich was average, a little underwhelming compared to Banh Mi Ba Le. It was still an okay sandwich, and not at all a bad deal, costing me a cool $3.25. The drink, on the other hand, had nothing on my previous almost divine experience. It tasted stale and artificial.

Overall, you can’t really go wrong with either place. Ask yourself: what are your priorities? You can get a great sandwich and fantastic drink with mediocre service at Banh Mi Ba Le, or you can get an okay sandwich with great service and a place to sit and enjoy at King Do.

About the Contributor
Ariel Rodriguez served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Arts Editor: Fall 2011 *Music Editor: 2010-2011 *The position of music editor was developed in Fall 2010, and disappeared in Fall 2012. Elizabeth Dow served as music editor from 2011-2012.