Viet’s Pho – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Viet’s Pho on Menaul

“”Vietnam. It grabs you and doesn’t let you go.
Once you love it, you love it forever.”

~ Anthony Bourdain 

Most of us have never been to Vietnam.  It’s possible, maybe likely, that most of us will never make it to Vietnam…at least not in a corporeal state.  That’s an important distinction because for years, we’ve already been visiting Vietnam.  We’ve been magically transported to Vietnam every time Anthony Bourdain visited.  Bourdain had the rare ability to develop intimate connections with the cultures and people he encountered in his travels then translate those connections into expressive and relatable narratives.  He was a gifted raconteur whose rare honesty, lack of pretense, irreverent sense of humor and self-deprecating humility came across so endearingly empathetic.  His evocative descriptions of exotic foods and cultures expanded our imaginations and allowed us to marvel and wonder about the world we know so little about.  Because of him, many of us fell in love with Vietnam.  Not its food.  We already loved that.  Because of Bourdain, we fell in love with the Vietnamese culture and its people.

Anthony Bourdain was so much more than a celebrity chef.  He was a true citizen of and ambassador for the world.  He had a genuine appreciation for extraordinary foods prepared by accomplished chefs, but demonstrated equal esteem for home cooks as they proudly prepared simple cultural staples.  Moreso, he gave voice to the most downtrodden and trampled upon.  Most of us who attempt, however futilely, to express ourselves with a modicum of the eloquence which seemed to come natural to him, don’t delude ourselves into believing we’re in the same league.  We’re not even in the same universe.

Viet’s Pho Dining Room

It’s only fitting that my inaugural visit to Viet’s Pho was with Alonna Smith, a Philadelphia expat now living in Albuquerque.  Alonna is much closer to Bourdain’s formidable orbit than I am, having published two books: The Philadelphia Food Companion and Lancaster County: The Best Fun, Food, Lodging, Shopping and Sights.  Her current project, an online compendium on Indian food, is an ambitious undertaking I’m very much looking forward to reading.  For several weeks we had been planning to meet for lunch only to be beset by schedule conflicts and other commitments.  Alonna is a kindred spirit, a bold culinary adventurer and proud dog parent.  Like me, she is still reeling by the untimely passing of Anthony Bourdain, an inspiration to both of us.

Alonna related that the Duke City has many more Vietnamese restaurants than Philadelphia, marveling that Albuquerque has somewhere around forty Vietnamese eateries to the City of Brotherly Love’s eight or so.  We were both excited to visit  Viet’s Pho, the metropolitan area’s newest entry into a dynamic Vietnamese culinary community. I knew we’d hit it off immediately after she suggested we order different entrees and share everything, generosity characteristic of most gastronomes.  She never mentioned the seeming grammatical faux pas of the restaurant’s name, an unsnobbish act I found especially Bourdainesque.

Spring Rolls with Grilled Pork

Launched in April, 2018, Viet’s Pho has already garnered a 4.5 star rating on 54 Yelp reviews (as of this writing). Howie “The Duke of Duke City” Kaibel, the charismatic Albuquerque Community Manager for Yelp, described it as “easily one of the most affordable, flavorful Vietnamese restaurants in Albuquerque, bordering on 5-star.”  He lavished his highest praise on the “best in the city” grilled pork.  The Alibi‘s rapaciously talented food editor Robin Babb (like Howie and me, a  Souperbowl 2018 judge) told readers that Viet’s Pho “serves hospitality and huge portions.”  Great food, warm hospitality, huge portions…Viet’s Pho can’t miss!

Located in the familiar space that served as the home to Ko Palace for nearly three decades, Viet’s Pho is the inaugural family-owned and operated venture for Wendy and Bao, both of whom previously worked  as servers at nearby Viet Taste.  Highly indicative of the type of service they provided is the volume of regulars who have followed them to their new restaurant.  They brought that customer orientation with them to Viet’s Pho.  During our hour-long visit, our servers first demonstrated Job-like patience as Alonna and I lingered in perusing the menu in between getting to know one another.  They then demonstrated  the endearing qualities to which all servers should aspire–attentiveness and friendliness, an encyclopedic knowledge of the menu and best of all, the wisdom not to hover when guests are deep in conversation.

Pork and Shrimp Rice Flour Crepe

A few vestiges–specifically glass murals depicting fierce dragons and docile pandas–of Ko Palace remain.  More prevalent as a decorative touch is wallpaper showcasing clusters of bamboo which Vietnamese esteem as both a symbol of vitality and a utilitarian material.  Thankfully, there were no remnants of the space’s previous tenant on the menu, aptly described by Howie as “going on for days.”  Both  Alonna and I came in with a tabula rasa attitude, that is we were both blank slates open to being inscribed upon by something alluring that caught our eyes.  Many items caught our eyes.  The menu is a virtual compendium of all that is great and wonderful about Vietnamese cuisine.

First up were spring rolls (Goi cuon) which are available with shrimp, chicken or pork.  The Duke City default seems to be shrimp so it was a refreshing change to order pork spring rolls (gasp, even the idea sounds almost heretical).  As Howie sagely declared, the grilled pork may just be the very best in the city.  The pork is marinated in a mix that includes fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and sundry ingredients that meld preternaturally well to create an olfactory treasure that dances on your taste buds.  The  aroma and flavor of thinly sliced pork in thin, nearly transparent rice paper wrappers is reminiscent of grilling outdoors in a small hibachi with fat dripping from the pork and sizzling into a smoky haze which permeates the pork.  Sure there are other ingredients (vermicelli noodles, Thai basil, lettuce) in the thick, cigar-shaped rolls, but that pork stands out and imprints itself on your taste buds and memories.  So does the dipping sauce, a terrific blend of hoisin sauce, peanut butter, chili paste and more.

Spicy Lemongrass Noodle Bowl

Alonna’s selection was a pork and shrimp rice flour crepe (sliced pork, whole shrimp, bean sprouts, and white onions), a crescent-shaped beauty resembling a folded pancake.  Interestingly, Banh Xeo, the Vietnamese name for this dish, actually translates to “sizzling cake” and in many circles, is referred to as a Vietnamese pancake, not a crepe.  Alonna quickly discerned a sweetness courtesy of coconut milk while I marveled at the slightly pungent, early flavor and fluorescent yellow of the turmeric used in the preparation of the crepe.  The crepe is served with a fish sauce with real personality and bite. It proved an outstanding choice, comparable in deliciousness to my “best of the city” choice at Basil Leaf.

Even had my beloved  May Hong  not closed in 2016, Viet Pho’s spicy lemongrass (your choice of chicken, pork, beef or shrimp stir-fried with onions, celery and bell pepper and available on  bed of rice or noodles) might be the best in the city. While lemongrass itself is a very mild herb with very little “spiciness,” this dish is replete with a pleasant piquancy, some of which comes from the accompanying fish sauce.  We’ve already established that the grilled pork is in rarefied air.  So, too, is the stir-fry, done masterfully by someone who obviously knows how to control the intense heat inherent in flash fry cuisine.  This is a magnificent dish.

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give Viet’s Pho is to proclaim that I believe Anthony Bourdain would have loved it.  I began this review with a tribute to Vietnam’s biggest advocate and champion.  In the days since his untimely passing, it seems everyone in the culinary community has penned a similar paean to him.  The very best I’ve read comes from my friend Hannah Walraven who’s now living in Wisconsin.  It’s too good not to share:

“I read his books, I watched his shows. I admired him and also had plenty of complaints about him. I appreciated some of the ways he presented the world and I disdained other ways. B and I had plenty of criticisms that I would never have dared to say to his face, no matter how brave I think I am. He didn’t know me and never would have. But here’s what hurts the most: that guy was in pain and he just tried to keep going. He was shooting his show. He left behind an 11-year old kid. Someone who obviously and clearly loved him found his body. He was the first to describe himself as a miserable bastard and yet he tried (sometimes against his own will it seems) to make the world better. He tried to make americans better in some small way. That’s so much more than so many people do. I’m so sad. I’m so sorry he was in pain. I’m so sorry for his loved ones. And I’m sorry for us, that another one of the helpers is gone. This crushing world is so crushing, I’m starting to see how only kindness and empathy matter, that being loving and honest and open are subversive acts. I love you guys, please please be well and let me know if you need anything I can give you.”

Viet’s Pho
4208 Menaul, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 717-2359
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 12 June 2018
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Pork Spring Rolls, Spicy Lemongrass Noodle Bowl, Chicken and Shrimp Rice Flour Crepe

Viet's Pho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coda Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Coda Bakery, home of fabulous Vietnamese sandwiches

JP, my former boss at Intel prides himself on consistently working “half days.” If you’re thinking you’d like a job where you work only four hours a day, you’ve misinterpreted his definition of “half days.” To him, half days is a literal term meaning twelve hours a day.  When most of us are done for after only nine or ten hours, he was just starting what he calls his “second shift.”  Very few of us have the stamina, initiative and especially the passion for what we do to work “half days.”

I know restaurateurs for whom half days (or longer) are standard six or seven days a week.  Because they spend so much time in their restaurants tending to the care and feeding of others, they tend not to eat there–when they make time to eat.  On their rare days off or when they’re able to make time for a quick escape, they like to visit their fellow restaurateurs, not necessarily to check up on the competition, but to be pampered and fed well.

The expanded dining room

Some restaurateurs would make great restaurant critics though they do tend to be overly “honest” when describing direct competitors, restaurants which serve the same type of cuisine they do.  On the other hand, if you’d like to know where to find cuisine that meets exceedingly high standards, ask your favorite restaurateurs where they like to dine, particularly with family.  If they’re effusive  about a restaurant, you should make it a point to visit soon.  It’s a good bet you’ll like it too. 

Marc Quinones, the über talented executive chef at Mas Tapas Y Vino  is a huge fan of M’Tucci’s Italian Restaurant,  listing ten reasons he loves about the restaurant in an interview with AbqLive.  In another example of a restaurateur with a pedigree of great restaurants unabashed with praise for another great restaurant,  Daniela Bouneau, the vivacious dynamo who partnered with her husband Maxime to launch Torinos @ Home and Eclectic Urban Pizzeria  is positively besotted with Basil Leaf, a Vietnamese gem.

Top View of Coda Combo (Jambon, Headham, Vietnamese Ham, BBQ Pork, Pate)

Though she would probably have preferred most of my restaurant meals and words of praise be reserved for the her restaurants, Daniela emailed me a few years ago with a rousing endorsement for a restaurant she and husband Maxime discovered during a foray to the International District.  She admitted “Max and I were like kids last Saturday.  Oh my, so fresh and so good and very affordable, too.”  She then proceeded to recommend several dishes which struck her fancy.  Daniela has never led me astray, either at her fabulous restaurants or at one she’s recommended to me.

The restaurant which excited her so much is Coda Bakery (formerly Banh Mi Coda), a Vietnamese bakery which specializes in banh mi, the sandwich fusion which melds the freshness of Asian ingredients and the culinary ingenuity of the French.  Banh Mi Coda is situated next door to Cafe Trang, separated only by a sprawling parking lot from Talin Market.  In a previous instantiation, Coda Bakery was also named Lee’s Bakery (not to be confused with the California-based Lee’s Sandwiches) and was located on the west side of the commodious Cafe Trang complex.

Right: House Marinated Grilled Pork
Left: Vietnamese Pork Meatball

When you enter the Lilliputian digs, your olfactory senses will experience the sensual delight of fresh, warm oven-baked breads and pastries.  As the intoxicating fragrances waft toward you, you’ll start to take in the visual aspects of your soon to be dining experience. Immediately to your right as you walk in are bold, color photographs of the eleven sandwich options, each foot-long banh mi seemingly not much smaller than the eatery.  Until 2017, Coda Bakery had only a handful of tables, all in personal space proximity.  An expansion more than doubled seating capacity.  Culinary treasures are showcased under glass, the objects of much ogling and lust.

Your first visit should be reserved for the name on the marquee, a banh mi unlike any other in the Duke City, a sandwich Albuquerque The Magazine named one of the city’s 12 yummiest sandwiches in its annual Food & Wine issue for 2012.   The basis for any great sandwich is the bread into which sundry ingredients are cradled.  Fresh-baked, out of the oven into your waiting hands, twelve-inch French baguettes are the foundation of these banh mi.  Each sandwich includes pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, cilantro, sliced jalapeño and Vietnamese mayo.  Even the deli meats used on these sandwiches are made in-house and are available for purchase by the pound.  The eleven sandwich options include two vegetarian choices: over-easy egg and tofu (also made on the premises).

Top: House Marinated Grilled Chicken
Bottom: Beef Lemongrass Wrapped in Grape Leaves

The French baguettes may resemble sub sandwich bread, but the similarity stops there.  Unlike the thick, doughy, pillowy bread proffered by the sub sandwich chains, these baguettes are crispy on the outside and have a soft interior without being doughy.  Characteristic of banh mi, these sandwiches will never be accused of being overstuffed.  In fact, they look positively paltry compared to subs stuffed with lettuce.  The difference is in the profusion of flavors you’ll experience with every bite.  The ingredients are unfailingly fresh, crisp and moist.  From grilled pork and chicken to shrimp sausage and cold cuts, the “innards” of each sandwich are as flavorful as can be imagined.

3 April 2018: The Coda Combo (jambon, head ham, Vietnamese ham, BBQ pork and pate) is an excellent introduction to the delicious possibilities of a Vietnamese sandwich. If the aforementioned ingredients sound unfamiliar, if not daunting, fear not. Jambon is a wet-cured, boneless ham. Pate is a pork and liver spread. They–and the other ingredients in this combo–are absolutely delicious, and not just in an exotic, adventure-eating sort of way. The grilled pork banh mi, much like traditional Vietnamese grilled pork entrees, is redolent with the sweet spices of anise and cinnamon. Complemented with the sweet-savory-tangy pickled vegetables, it’s a wonderful sandwich.  Even if you’re a bit pusillanimous around piquant peppers, make sure your sandwich includes at least a few jalapenos.  They add more than piquancy. 

Green Chili Chicken Pate Chaud

10 February 2015: There’s a Lemony Snicket quote which might just be appropriate for Banh Mi Coda’s Vietnamese Meatball Banh Mi: “Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear.”  The photo on the wall depicts a baguette brimming with meatballs.  There aren’t nearly quite that many meatballs on the banh mi.  In fact, meatballs are rather sparse.  Perhaps that’s because a few meatballs go a long way.  Texturally the meatballs are akin to meatloaf, the soft, squishy inside, not the crusty exterior.  In terms of flavor, they’re a perfect foil for the other ingredients.  More savory than sweet, the meatballs are a wonderful filler for any sandwich. 

13 March 2015:  It took the Lenten season for me to notice that one of the banh mi options on the daily menu is a shrimp sausage banh mi with spicy mayo.  Consider my oversight a lost opportunity to enjoy a rather unique sandwich.  Unless you’ve previously had shrimp sausage, it’s wholly unlike what you might picture shrimp sausage to be.  Picture a soft, moist patty of finely minced shrimp with a binding agent of some sorts.  It’s seasoned very well, particularly when the spicy mayo (which you’ve probably had with sushi) is part of the picture.  Spicy is a bit of a misnomer unless you also bite into a jalapeño concurrently.  This is one of those non-meat items that as a Catholic, doesn’t taste at all like a penance.

Cha Chien

21 July 2011: For a surprising combination of Vietnamese and New Mexican ingredients, the green chili (sic) chicken pate chaud is a must-have. Under glass, it resembles a German apple strudel, but this is far from a dessert offering.  As with banh mi, it’s a French influenced dish.  A homemade puff pastry is engorged with shredded chicken and green chili in a cream sauce.  The golden crust is light and flaky, the shredded chicken and cream sauce a delight and the green chili actually has bite.  Call this one a Vietnamese empanada and you wouldn’t get much argument from any New Mexican who tries it.

21 July 2011: One of the items Daniela recommended most highly was the pandan waffle, wholly unlike any conception of a waffle you might have. Pandan is an herb with long green leaves. It not only imbues the waffles with a bright green coloring, but with a discernible flavor and aroma. Also prominent on the flavor profile is coconut milk. Pandan waffles are moist and don’t require syrup. They’re also surprisingly good.

Fresh, Right out of the Oven Cinnamon Raisin Croissant

10 February 2015: With all due apologies to the famous Frontier Roll, the Duke City’s very best anytime pastry may well be Banh Mi Coda’s fabulous Cinnamon Raisin Croissant.  While not crescent-shaped or as flaky as most, if not all, of the croissants you’ve ever had, it has the delicious properties of croissants at their best.  Tear into the spiral-shaped, sugar encrusted beauty and wisps of steam will waft upward toward your eagerly anticipating nostrils.  The insides are pillowy soft with melt-in-your mouth qualities and the sweetness born of raisins a plenty as well as sugar and cinnamon, but not too much of either.  If you’re tired of pastries so sweet that looking at them rots your teeth, you’ll love this one. 

In its annual Food & Wine issue for 2017, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded Ban Mi Coda a Hot Plate Award signifying the selection of its Beef Lemongrass Banh Mi as one of the “dishes…that’s lighting a fire under the city’s culinary scene.”  Considering the thousands of potential selections, to be singled out is quite an honor.

Pandan Waffles

The premise that restaurateurs and chefs know where to eat wasn’t lost on the Food Network whose program “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” answers the question “where do food stars and chefs eat in their free time–when they’re paying.” It make sense that people who spend their lives obsessing about food during their half days or longer at the kitchen would know where it’s served best. Banh Mi Coda is one such restaurant.

Coda Bakery
230-C Louisiana Blvd, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 232-0085
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 3 April 2018
1st VISIT: 21 July 2011
# OF VISITS: 9
RATING: 23
COST: $$
BEST BET: Pandan Waffles, Green Chili Chicken Pate Chaud, Coda Combo Banh Mi, Grilled Pork Banh Mi, Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Banh Mi Coda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Leona Banh Mi – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Leona Banh Mi…Fresh, Healthy, Yummy

“I’m not allowed in the Vietnamese sandwich shop anymore.
They decided to banh mi for life.”

During an ice-breaker at what promised to be a stressful project planning meeting, all participants were asked to stand up and describe their favorite childhood Christmas gift. For the most part, favorite gifts conformed to gender stereotypes. Male colleagues waxed fondly about GI Joe action figures (don’t ever call them dolls), Star Wars Lego sets and their first bike. Females in our group described Barbie dolls, playhouses and cabbage patch kids. Then it was my turn. “My favorite Christmas gift as a child,” I explained “was a dictionary.” Copious groaning ensued though for some reason no one was surprised. As a child for whom English was a second language, my first dictionary was a good friend, one consulted frequently when reading my other favorite tome, the encyclopedia. Yeah, I was a weird kid.

Perhaps because it was so ponderous and not a few gazillion bytes of information floating around some ethereal concept called the cloud, the dictionary was much more uncool back then. It was also much more mysterious and stodgy. No one seemed to know how new words were added from year-to-year (I pictured a pantheon of robed academics assiduously considering all prospects). Today, we know that new words are added to dictionaries when they’re used often enough that they can be said to “belong”—they’ve become part of the mainstream vernacular. One particularly rich source of new words is the culinary world. In 2014, for example, the Vietnamese term “banh mi” was one of 500 new words added to the American Heritage Dictionary.

Leo Greets Another Soon To Be Satisfied Customer

If you’re wondering why it took such a long time, consider that the popularity of banh mi has largely been an urban phenomenon. You could, in fact, say the same thing about Vietnamese cuisine in general. Travel around the Land of Enchantment and you’re not likely to find authentic banh mi in Farmington, Gallup, Roswell, Silver CIty or Taos—and they’re among the state’s most populous or urbane cities. No, my friends, for the most part if you want banh mi, you’ll have to trek to the Duke City, Las Cruces or Santa Fe. Though banh mi may have become part of the American lexicon, it’s still largely a strange word to many New Mexicans. Give it a decade or so and that shouldn’t be the case. Banh mi is too good not to be enjoyed by everyone!

We’ve been loving banh mi in Albuquerque since at least 1995 when they were called “Vietnamese Sandwiches” by the few Vietnamese restaurants (May Hong among them) which served them. That’s nineteen years before banh mi made it to the American Heritage dictionary. Albuquerque’s very first Vietnamese bakery whose primary focus was banh mi was Banh Mi Coda which opened in 2010 after a short stint as Lee’s Bakery. In its annual Food & Wine issue for 2012, Albuquerque The Magazine named the banh mi at Banh Mi Coda as “one of the city’s “12 yummiest sandwiches.” In early 2013, the Duke City saw the launch of its second banh mi shop when Sai Gon Sandwich opened in Franklin Plaza, a timeworn shopping center made infamous on Better Call Saul. Ten different banh mi adorn the menu at this combination bakery, deli and tofu house.

Shrimp and Pork Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

In November, 2016, SweeTea Bakery Café opened its doors in the Montgomery Plaza shopping center, gracing the Duke City with yet another very impressive array of delicious banh mi as well as some of the best pastries this side of Paris. Not quite a year later, Rolls & Bowls became the fourth Vietnamese bakery-restaurant specializing in banh mi to launch in Albuquerque. One commonality among this quadrumvirate of banh mi purveyors is some of the city’s very best sandwiches prepared and served by very talented and dedicated owners all committed to proving (to paraphrase the Beatles) you can banh mi love. You may have noticed there remain under-served and even unserved portions of the Duke City in which nary a banh mi can be found. One of those is the burgeoning westside.

On 28 December 2017, westside Vietnamese food aficionados had their prayers answered with the launch of Leona Bahn Mi.  Located in a small, nondescript shopping center, Leona may be the smallest tenant in the area with two four-tops (table seating four diners) and seating for two on a small counter space.  This bodes mostly take-out business–or diners arriving early so as to secure a seat.  You’ll want to do the latter to interact with the very friendly and accommodating owners.  There actually isn’t anyone named Leona at the restaurant.  Leona is a portmanteau for the delightful married couple who own the restaurant: Leo, who runs the front of the house and Hanh who runs the kitchen.  You’ll meet them both.

Meatball Banh Mi

Leona Banh Mi is aptly named, but banh mi aren’t the sole items on the menu.  Belying the Lilliputian space, you’ll also find seven pho dishes, four different spring rolls and Vietnamese coffee.  Lots of coffee.  Vietnamese smoothies are at the ready though not one made with durian.  Nine distinct banh mi grace the menu including one (sardines and tomato sauce) your intrepid blogger has yet to try anywhere.  Banh mi are available in six- or twelve-inch sizes.  All banh mi include pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro and jalapeños or green chile if you request them.  Instead of your banh mi being constructed on the usual Vietnamese-style baguette, you can ask for a lettuce wrap-style banh mi.

Spring rolls, two per order rice wrappers encasing cilantro and lettuce along with your ingredients of choice: shrimp, shrimp and pork, tofu or vegan are the only “appetizers” on the menu–or you can enjoy a six-inch banh mi with a bowl of pho if you prefer.  Don’t pass up the spring rolls.  They’re about five-inches long and are served with Leona’s homemade peanut sauce or fish sauce.  The shrimp and pork spring rolls are terrific–fun, fresh and delicious.  The shrimp has the crisp snap of freshness while the pork is imbued with inimitable Vietnamese grilled pork flavors.  The peanut sauce is a bit on the sweet side, but a bit of chili sauce will quickly fix that.

Fish Roll Banh Mi

After years of being disappointed by so-called Italian meatball subs, my affections have turned to the Vietnamese meatball banh mi.  My disappointment has been abated every time.  There’s just something magical about the moist pork meatballs interplaying with the crunchy carrot-daikon-cilantro-jalapeño slaw that appeals to my taste buds.  As with all banh mi, the secret to this sandwich is the balance between meatballs, slaw and sauce.  It’s not drenched in sauce nor is it desiccated.  Banh mi are not intended to be behemoth “Dagwood” sandwiches crammed with meats and cheeses.  You can actually taste, discern and appreciate every single component of every banh mi.

One of the most unique banh mi I’ve ever encountered is Leona’s fish roll banh mi.  My expectations were for some type of fried fish looking like most fried fish look.  Instead, the fish more closely resembles sliced deli turkey about a quarter-inch thick.  Thankfully it doesn’t take like turkey.  Despite its rather unique appearance, it does taste like fish, albeit strangely presented fish.  Hahn explained that the fish is filleted and pressed then fried.  Whatever the process, it’s a good (though not even very good) banh mi.  Flavors didn’t pop as they do with the meatball banh mi. 

Residents of the West Mesa no longer have to trek across the river or to Rio Rancho to get their banh mi fix.  Now if we could only persuade Leona to expand to other unserved and under-served hamlets across the Land of Enchantment, the dictionary entry for “banh mi” will be instantly recognizable to one and all.

Leona Banh Mi
3250 Coors Blvd, N.W., Suite H
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 347-1913
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 1 February 2018
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET:  Shrimp & Pork Spring Rolls, Fish Roll Banh Mi, Pork Meatball Banh Mi
RESTAURANT REVIEW #1023

Leona Banh Mi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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