Saturday, February 25, 2012

BANH MI BATTLE!

If I ever left Denver, the foods I'd miss are (1) Santiago's breakfast burritos, (2) anything from Domo, and (3) banh mi sandwiches from Ba Le on South Federal.  I've written about them here before.  And they're better than Baker's Palace - yes, they are.

But there's a new bakery in town.  We watched an attached bakery grow onto New Saigon.  Would it be better?  The first time Will-J and I went, there was a sign on the door that they were out of bread.  Then when we went back, the line was out the door and we didn't even go in.  The third time, we waited 20 minutes in line only to have them run out of bread as we ordered.  Here's a brief Westword writeup.  

Today, we finally got our banh mi.  I got pork belly and barbecue beef.  Will-J got ham, no jalapenos.  They ran out of bread as we ate.  The verdict?  This is hard to say...not better than Ba Le, but will require additional sampling.

Ba Le is wonderfully inconsistent.  One day you get hyper-crusty bread and they decide to give you a fiery load of jalapenos.  Another day maybe the bread is better but they're out of something.  That's the way it goes, and it's always good (plus, they ended the frozen yogurt experiment, so they have tables again so you can sit and eat).

New Saigon Bakery & Deli has generally better meat.  The pork belly was excellent.  But the bread was cold and too crusty, and more importantly, the pickled daikon and carrots too bland and too coarsely cut.  Worse, the last time Will-J and I went to Ba Le, we somehow got perfection - bread right out of the oven, barbecue right off the grill, etc.  New Saigon couldn't top it, despite the wait.

Could New Saigon be better on another day?  I think so.  They apparently open at 8 AM - will the bread be better then?  Probably.  Do they have far more choices than Ba Le, including an interesting selection of bulk foods?  Yes.  Will they learn to make enough bread?  I think so.  Should Ba Le worry?  I don't think so - there's room on South Federal for both (to our overall happiness).

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