Eat Here, Not There: Bánh Mì for the Los Angeles Crowd, Or: More Reasons to Hate on Red Medicine

redmedposter.png
In some ways, I wish they kept this idiocy...
Last night, I traveled to Los Angeles to dine at Rivera, the fabulous restaurant that spans Latin America and is the latest stunner by John Sedlar, the last of the Southwestern-cuisine Mohicans. I was there to interview Sedlar for my coming book, and I'll reveal his favorite OC restaurant next week.

After our interview, I had dinner with my chica and Bill Esparza, the blogger behind the encyclopedic Street Gourmet LA, and like his fellow Top Chef: Masters guest Eddie Lin, another food blogger's food blogger--a guy all us food writers read religiously but who remains a secret. The topic in LA food circles remains the unceremonious outing of Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbila and her subsequent expulsion by the douches behind Red Medicine, a restaurant I had never heard about until this fiasco. Bill wrote his own take on the mess and filled me in on other details--like how the owners had actually come up with the above logo before scrapping it after coming to their senses. How stupid and pompous are these guys? They're lucky they didn't try to open their "punk Vietnamese" concept in Orange County, or they'd be rightfully filleted by actual Vietnamese.

One of Rivera's waiters must have overheard our conversation because he told us he had the best bánh mì of his life at some event catered by Jordan Kahn, one of the guys behind Red Medicine. Esparza and I laughed. Loudly. We explained Little Saigon, the impossibility of comparing the region's bánh mìs to something that gets its baguette from some fancy-ass bakery.

"Well, where can I get a good bánh mì in Los Angeles?" the waiter countered.

After the jump, young padewan!
banhmichocu.jpg
Taken from those crazy Yelp kids, but they stole this photo from our paper--true story!

Not in Los Angeles.

LA might have some bánh mì shops and some Vietnamese, but it's simple logic. If people want the best Korean in Southern California, they travel to LA's Koreatown. Best Persian? Irvine or West Los Angeles. Ethiopian? Off Fairfax. Anything else might work but pales to the true center of a particular foodstuff.

Ergo: Little Saigon and Vietnamese food, especially bánh mì. You're getting overcharged in Los Angeles for bánh mìs, and better to have a Little Saigon feast rather than a one-off meal.

All of us Forkers have our favorite bánh mì shop, but if each of us had to make a list of the top five, I'm sure Bánh Mì Cho Cu would make all of them. It's my favorite--massive torpedos, bread baked in-house, a beautiful breakfast bánh mì and another featuring lemongrass beef. Yeah, the drive might be long, Angelenos, but better that than to spend $12 on a "gourmet" bánh mì by arrogant pretenders who can't even spell the sandwich's damn name right.

You could also go to the San Gabriel Valley--but this is the OC Weekly, not the San Gabriel Valley Tribune or whatever that region's rag is called.

Banh Mi Cho Cu, 14520 Magnolia St., Ste. B, Westminster, (714) 891-3718.

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13 comments
Zhui Qui
Zhui Qui

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I got nothin'
I got nothin'

Cho cu for thit nuongBa le for gaBanh mi & Che Cali for bulk ordersStill looking for the best xiu Mai banh mi in little Saigon, any suggestions?You guys should do a banh mi dac biet throw down between cho cu and ba le. I'm leaning towards cho cu on this one, but i've never done a side by side comparison

Bsquared
Bsquared

I'm so tired of those Red Medicine guys. They totally admit they don't know anything about Vietnamese food. In their "manifesto", they talk about 'bowls of Pho in Chinatown at 3am'. Really? I don't believe you.

The Ho Chi Minh image on the logo was totally tone deaf and I called them out on it before they even opened. Very quickly, they took it off the website. I thought it was ironic when they kicked out SIV from the restaurant. Maybe they should add Stalin to their logo.

But it shows they don't get it. I won't eat there and I live in the neighborhood. I'd rather drive to SGV and/or Little Saigon. In fact, I would rather drive to San Jose (which has darn good VN food).

Tell that waiter I will pay for Banh Mi for the whole waitstaff at Rivera to show them what a good Banh Mi is. I would send them to Ba Le on Bolsa or Banh Mi Che Cali if there are too many of them! Then I could get the discount.

iBobot
iBobot

Where larger version yelp/OCWEEKLY photo, specially cute girl. Give url.

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linaimai

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WeFlipBurgers
WeFlipBurgers

Red Medicine's 1 bánh mì ($16) = 5 from Westminister ($2.50 each) + 3 baguettes, all for less than $16. Sure, not foie gras but we like BBQ pork, chicken with shredded pork, grilled pork and OE eggs. Had to get back home right away so just bought some grub next door to the cell phone repair shop. If the waiter lives close to me, I'd be happy to give him 1 or 2 sandwiches and a baguette cause I have too much -- big eyes, small stomach.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

They left off a diacritic on that poster, too. I think it's supposed to say "Lao động. Hanh phúc. Ấm no." (Labour. Happiness. Prosperity.)

And not a single OC-dwelling Vietnamese-American would set foot.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

When Cho Cu is "on", their xiu mai is unbeatable. When they're "off", they're awful. You never know which day is which, and inconsistency is the hobgoblin of restaurant reviews.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Great suggestion! Let's just say we're working on more than a mere Dueling Dishes for bánh mì...

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

If you go to Banh Mi Che Cali it's 9... buy two get one free.

I got nothin'
I got nothin'

Guess I've only had Cho Cu's xiu mai when it's off. I'll have to give it another shot and hope I get lucky that day.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Родина-мать зовет!

The motherland is calling you, Comrade 20ftJesus.

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