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Going beyond banh mi at Banh Mi Hoi An

Terrific take-out options include a warming beef stew

Bo Kho, a traditional Vietnamese beef stew
Bo Kho, a traditional Vietnamese beef stew

Used to be, whenever I found myself hungry for lunch in the Sports Arena/Loma Portal area, I’d wind up enduring the lines of either In-N-Out Burger or Phil’s BBQ. That changed for the better a couple years ago, when Bánh Mì Hội An opened on Rosecrans Street. Its delicious, crusty sandwiches have become my go-to grab-and-go since the summer of 2018.

Place

Banh Mi Hoi An

3145 Rosecrans Street, Suite A, San Diego

In fact, it’s Hội An special bánh mì ($6.50) — the meaty signature sandwiches made with Vietnamese pork loaf, pork belly, jambon, braised pork, and pate — has proven so satisfying, I rarely consider anything else.

But it was about time I did. Truth is, despite its name, Bánh Mì Hội An is much more than just a bánh mì shop. It offers plenty of hot and cold Vietnamese dishes, ranging from phở noodle soups ($9-12) and rice plates to summer rolls ($5.50) and bun (pronounced like boon), also known as vermicelli noodle salad ($9-12, including options for lemongrass beef, marinated tofu, and glazed salmon)..

As San Diego has entered the purple tier, putting indoor dining on ice for a while, I did something I haven’t done before. I put in an order for take-out at Bánh Mì Hội An, not for lunch, but for dinner. I still picked up a Hội An special sandwich — a couple actually — because it’s really built to please, any time of day. I got a sumptuous order of pork skewer and egg roll bun. But the focus of my meal was an altogether different dish: bo kho ($9.95).

Banh Mi Hoi An's signature Hoi An Special, featuring pork loaf, pork belly, jambon, braised pork, and pate

It’s a Vietnamese stew, built around braised beef and carrots. Which sounds a lot like a French stew, sure. But much like banh mi draws upon Vietnamese ingredients and traditions to distinguish itself from French use of baguettes to make sandwiches, bo kho manages to be as comforting as Continental stews, while retaining a sense of Southeast Asian character.

And so I found myself ushering forkfuls of familiar tomato-based beef stew, while marveling over its distinctions. Is that fish sauce? I wondered. That must be lemon grass?

The vermicelli noodle salad, bun, with pork skewers and egg rolls (lettuce not pictured)

True to stew form, you may order it with a side of baguettes for dipping, or as I did, with rice. On a chilly night, the warming dish satisfied every bit as much as the sandwich I ate beside it.

Bánh Mì Hội An does offer limited outdoor seating, but I can’t think of a better take-out option in the area, whether for lunch or dinner, winter or summer, pandemic or whatever it is that comes after.

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Bo Kho, a traditional Vietnamese beef stew
Bo Kho, a traditional Vietnamese beef stew

Used to be, whenever I found myself hungry for lunch in the Sports Arena/Loma Portal area, I’d wind up enduring the lines of either In-N-Out Burger or Phil’s BBQ. That changed for the better a couple years ago, when Bánh Mì Hội An opened on Rosecrans Street. Its delicious, crusty sandwiches have become my go-to grab-and-go since the summer of 2018.

Place

Banh Mi Hoi An

3145 Rosecrans Street, Suite A, San Diego

In fact, it’s Hội An special bánh mì ($6.50) — the meaty signature sandwiches made with Vietnamese pork loaf, pork belly, jambon, braised pork, and pate — has proven so satisfying, I rarely consider anything else.

But it was about time I did. Truth is, despite its name, Bánh Mì Hội An is much more than just a bánh mì shop. It offers plenty of hot and cold Vietnamese dishes, ranging from phở noodle soups ($9-12) and rice plates to summer rolls ($5.50) and bun (pronounced like boon), also known as vermicelli noodle salad ($9-12, including options for lemongrass beef, marinated tofu, and glazed salmon)..

As San Diego has entered the purple tier, putting indoor dining on ice for a while, I did something I haven’t done before. I put in an order for take-out at Bánh Mì Hội An, not for lunch, but for dinner. I still picked up a Hội An special sandwich — a couple actually — because it’s really built to please, any time of day. I got a sumptuous order of pork skewer and egg roll bun. But the focus of my meal was an altogether different dish: bo kho ($9.95).

Banh Mi Hoi An's signature Hoi An Special, featuring pork loaf, pork belly, jambon, braised pork, and pate

It’s a Vietnamese stew, built around braised beef and carrots. Which sounds a lot like a French stew, sure. But much like banh mi draws upon Vietnamese ingredients and traditions to distinguish itself from French use of baguettes to make sandwiches, bo kho manages to be as comforting as Continental stews, while retaining a sense of Southeast Asian character.

And so I found myself ushering forkfuls of familiar tomato-based beef stew, while marveling over its distinctions. Is that fish sauce? I wondered. That must be lemon grass?

The vermicelli noodle salad, bun, with pork skewers and egg rolls (lettuce not pictured)

True to stew form, you may order it with a side of baguettes for dipping, or as I did, with rice. On a chilly night, the warming dish satisfied every bit as much as the sandwich I ate beside it.

Bánh Mì Hội An does offer limited outdoor seating, but I can’t think of a better take-out option in the area, whether for lunch or dinner, winter or summer, pandemic or whatever it is that comes after.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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