Restaurant of the Week: Lee’s Sandwiches

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Lee’s Sandwiches, 3938 Grand Ave. (at Spectrum East), Chino

Lee’s is a San Jose-based chain specializing in banh mi, which are Vietnamese sandwiches. A Lee’s opened a few months ago in Chino, of all places, its first Inland Valley incursion. The shop is in the food court of the sprawling Chino Spectrum Marketplace shopping center on the north side of Grand.

I only knew Lee’s by its excellent reputation. I checked it out for a recent lunch. They have Asian and American sandwiches on 10-inch baguettes and European sandwiches on croissants. (Remember the French influence in Vietnam.) A neon sign in the window announces “Hot Baguettes Now,” akin to Krispy Kreme’s donuts sign.

I had the grilled pork banh mi, which comes on fresh-baked bread with pickled daikon and carrot, onion, jalapenos, cilantro and mayo. The price was an absurd $2.79. The mango smoothie I got to wash it down was $2.95, also a good deal.

There’s only a four-seat counter inside for dining in, but a large patio sufficed on a comfortable day. The sandwich was excellent, especially notable for the bread, and was filling, and the drink was good too.

Banh mi can be found at some Vietnamese restaurants locally, and I know of one banh mi shop, Super Sandwiches in Montclair. If there were a Lee’s closer to our Ontario office, I would eat there all the time.

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  • rich

    All I can say if you like it must realy stink since you don’t have any taste at all when it comes to food. I can tell this by reading your articles in the past. Maybe I should give you some lessons. You said the grinder in Ontario was good and it was terrible. The whoppie pies didn’t last like I said it would be close in 6 months and it didnt even last that long. You might have a good spot in your articles maybe 1 out of 10 you review.

    [Thanks for offering me that glimmer of hope. I notice you've been griping since 2008 about something nice I said a year or two previously about Grinder Haven:
    http://www.insidesocal.com/davidallen/2008/05/restaurant-of-the-week-angels.html
    -- DA]

  • DebB

    I just read a comment on some website somewhere — “Lee’s is the McDonald’s of Vietnamese sandwiches.” But I’m with you — I’d eat there all the time if it was closer. Their bread is to die for, and the amazing price! I didn’t know about the place in Montclair — I’ll have to try it.

  • Doug Evans

    Is there a law against drinking and commenting? Based on that first comment above, should there be?

    Your post is actually making me feel guilty, which is probably not the effect you were going for, but the owner of this Lee’s is a friend of mine, and she’s been encouraging me to visit her restaurant since before it opened up. From everything I’ve heard about it, including your post, it’s really good. Plus it’s just about five minutes from my house. Maybe, inspired by your blog, I’ll finally make it out there this weekend! Then I won’t have to keep looking at the ground and shuffling my feet every time I see my friend.

    ["Hi, Lee's owner"...(shuffle, shuffle)..."wow, look at this pretty pebble." Yeah, that could get old. -- DA]

  • bub

    I’m gonna go to Lee’s right after I get off work.

    –Bub

    captcha 4jqn76

  • Scott in RC

    With my work recently moving to Chino, I have been to Lee’s. I went with the standard Turkey/Cheese/Avocado sandwich, which was excellent. Hopefully the next time I go, I will step outside of my box and try something like the grilled pork banh mi. Sounds delicious after you described the incredients. Plus the price is ridiculously inexpensive!

    Does Rich give lessons on drinking? Sounds like he’s good at that, especially when he starts responding to your blog. The one good thing is I always love your responses to knuckleheaded comments.

    [You won't ever merit one of those, Scott. -- DA]

  • calwatch

    In addition, many pho places will also make sandwiches, i.e. Pho Vi in Downtown Pomona. I do agree that Lee’s is the McDonald’s of Vietnamese sandwiches, but at least they aren’t the Panda Express of Vietnamese sandwiches. It’s close enough to authentic that, despite the reduced quality, it’s less than the drive to Ba Le in Alhambra.

    [I've had a decent banh mi at Pho Vi, but not as good as Lee's, the bread being the main difference. Now you've got me curious about Ba Le. -- DA]