Dining on a Budget: Vietnamese Sandwiches

I love Vietnamese Sandwiches so much that my first taste of those French baguettes topped with meat and pickled Asian vegetables is a warm memory. Probably just as good as the satisfying taste is their insanely cheap prices — most of these sandwiches run in the $2 range! You can always find a decent Vietnamese sandwich, or banhh mi, at Lee’s Sandwiches, the McDonald’s of Vietnamese sandwiches. With a wide selection from grilled chicken, barbeque pork to ham, these surprisingly filling meals run as low as $1.95 to $2.75. You can also buy spring rolls or fried egg rolls as appetizers for just as cheap.

Lee’s locations in the Valley:

Alhambra
1289 East Valley Boulevard @ Valley Supermarket Center
Alhambra, CA 91801
Phone: (626) 282-5589

Rosemead
8779 East Valley Boulevard @ Muscatel Avenue
Rosemead, CA 91770
Phone: (626) 291-2688

Rowland Heights       
18194 Colima Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

There are few other places in Orange County, especially in OC’s Little Saigon, that I actually prefer over Lee’s (their baguettes are not as fresh as I have tasted elsewhere), so I am always on the look out for other places in the Valley serving my favorite sandwich.

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I recently discovered Mr. Baguette in Rosemead, a Vietnamese sandwich shop just down the street from a Lee’s Sandwiches. While the place boasts a pleasant outdoor patio area, I was immediately disappointed as soon as I stepped to the counter to order. The cheapest sandwich — the Special with ham and salami — was $3.35, almost a dollar more than most Vietnamese sandwiches! I certainly hoped that the extra dollar made the sandwich far superior than any other sandwich I had before. To my dismay, the bread was not as fresh as I had hoped and the portions of meat and toppings were a bit skimpy. So, for Vietnamese sandwiches in the Valley, I’m sticking to Lee’s.

Pakistani Lunch in Diamond Bar

Aashiana Hala Tandoori Restaurant

2020 S. Brea Canyon Road
Diamond Bar, CA

(909) 396-0176
 
You can call my culinary approach adventurous. If I’ve never had it, I’ll try it. Often times, I’m pleasantly surprised at what foods I’ve actually enjoyed. But, yes, there are times that within of few hours of consumption, I’m heading to the nearest bathroom!
 
This time my culinary curiosity took me to Aashiana Halal Tandoori Restaurant in Diamond Bar. Drive into a compact business complex on Brea Canyon Road and you’ll see a small restaurant bearing the word Aashiana above its doorway. The sight alone doesn’t reveal much of what to expect inside, but if you’re in the mood for something different a stop at Aashiana might just be the place. The interior looks like any other small, sit-down restaurant with a few decorative pieces that give hints of what ethnic cuisine to expect. If those don’t give it away, then the large plasma TV playing Pakistani soap operas should.
 
If you’re familiar with the curries, masalas and tandoori cuisine of India, then the food of Pakistan might not be such a stretch. Known for its aromatic spices and rich flavor, Pakistani dishes are heavily influenced by South Asian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Yet, unlike most Indian dishes, meat plays a more dominant role in Pakistani cuisine. The owners of Aashiana are muslim and their food is takes on the no-pork criteria of muslim food.I tried the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, served every weekday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For $7.50 you get a very filling meal of your choice of almost every kind of beef, lamb, chicken and vegetable curry. Rich in heavy sauces, the entres are best eaten with flat, fluffy naan or basmati rise (or both)! You can also choose between plain or garlic naan.
 
The food overall was tasty and the buffet offered a good selection. However, Aashiana’s purchasing requirements seemed a bit peculiar. Be sure to bring a good amount of cash as there is a $20 minimum for credit cards! Also, one entree per customer must be ordered otherwise they’ll charge you an extra $7!