I fell in love with banh mi sandwiches after I first tasted them at Xa Vietnamese Grill restaurant in Irwindale.
But sadly, Xa Vietnamese closed months ago and has left me longing for those tasty French Vietnamese sandwiches.
So I scoured the Internet and surveyed colleagues for nearby Vietnamese restaurants that served the baguette sandwiches.
Mr. Baguette in Rosemead was suggested plenty of times but it is not in the coverage area of our weekly community newspapers (I will give them a try later anyway).
After finding many pho spots on the Web, I hit on Pho 2007 in Rowland Heights. Though not really near the office, I thought I would give it a try since it is within our coverage.
As I drove up Colima Road toward a little side street called Otterbein, I knew I found the place when I was greeted with a large “Pho 2007″ sign over what used to be a Taco Bell restaurant.
I was eagerly greeted as soon as I entered and was handed a menu, which varied from spring roll appetizers to banh mi sandwiches, and pho (rice noodle soup) to rice plate entrees, and more.
I took a chance on three original shrimp spring rolls for $4.50, and a banh mi sandwich with grilled pork for $3.25.
The rolls come with about three medium-sized shrimp (cooked and peeled), small pieces of cooked chicken, cilantro leaves, lettuce and vermicelli rice noodles, all tightly wrapped in rice paper.
The rolls were nicely sized for their price (I only finished one) and the accompanying peanut sauce was a great complement.
The first thing I noticed about the sandwich was the size. It was wider than what I was used to. When I unwrapped the paper covering the sandwich, I found out why.
Pho 2007 used a bolillo (a thick and wide Mexican roll) instead of a baguette (long, thin French bread).
This made the sandwich a little difficult to bite into, but I knew my way around a bolillo so I dug into the thick crusty bread.
I liked that the sandwich had all the banh mi ingredients I was used to – sliced carrots and cucumber, cilantro sprigs, and sliced jalapeno with a light spread of mayonnaise. The sandwich also had a half-round slice of tomato, it was nice but a little too thick so it kept coming out.
The pork was nicely seasoned with soy sauce and something a little sweet. The pieces were nicely sliced, not very fatty, which you may find with pork, and slightly grilled.
For the price, I would say the sandwich definitely satisfied my craving for banh mi.
But I can’t say how often I will go out of my way from the northwest side of West Covina to the southeast end of San Gabriel Valley just to get to Rowland Heights. That would take up my whole lunch hour.
Of course, those cravings don’t go away forever …
Pho 2007 is at 19208 Colima Road in Rowland Heights and is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They are closed on Tuesdays.
Be sure to have cash in hand as they do not accept any cards. $5 dollar dine-in specials are offered on Wednesdays. For information and to-go orders, call (626) 839-8100.