Jan. 19 2011 10:24 AM

Bread meat = Sandwiches 4-eva

A Vietnamese ham bahn mi: Like other ham, but different
Photo by Jenny Montgomery

Even more than crickets, walnuts and Lesley Stahl, one of the things I really, really can't stand in this world is bad customer service. (I'm sure Lesley is a lovely woman. But she was mean to me once.) I realize this is not a controversial or particularly interesting stance to take in life, but nothing makes my blood boil faster than bad treatment by someone I'm voluntarily trying to give my money to. And yet, the terribly confused and innocently clueless teenage girl at Baguette Up in Mira Mesa was so sweet and ridiculous, and the sandwiches just tasty enough, that I find myself rooting for those crazy sammie-makin' kids.

Baguette Up (8155 Mira Mesa Blvd. Ste. 3 in Mira Mesa) occupies a personality-lacking little space in a strip mall along Mira Mesa Boulevard. That about describes most of Mira Mesa's commerce, I know, but this one's next to Target, so, really, it's a jackpot find.

Baguette Up lured me in with its clever name; man, I love me some terrible food puns. But instead of finding standard deli sandwiches, I discovered intriguing meat-and-veggie combos, including banh mi, the popular Vietnamese ham sandwich. The menu board provides no descriptions, merely a picture and a title of each sandwich. Mr. City Eat, unfamiliar with banh mi, asked, about one in particular, “What's the difference between Vietnamese ham and other ham?” The giggly teenage girl behind the counter helpfully answered, and I quote her verbatim, “Um— it's, like, a different flavor?” Sold!

Along with the differently flavored ham sandwich, we ordered the barbecued pork sandwich and eagerly sat down to await our lunches. After a few minutes, a roving band of teen boys strolled in, thoroughly distracting our behind-the-counter heroine from her busy schedule of texting. I could see it in her eyes: Keep it together. They're really cute Act like you don't care. Quick! Loudly reference Facebook to your co-worker! Giggle. Flip hair. Repeat. Oh no, that old lady's sandwich is ready.

The sweet young thing brought us just the ham sandwich, and when we asked about the barbecued pork sandwich, she glanced, horrified, at the group of cute boys, to which she had just given my other sandwich. “Umm—I, like, accidentally gave them your sandwich, so it'll be just another minute. Is that OK?” Poor little dove, I remember being that age. Mr. City Eat, on the other hand, had a puss on his face and was not ROFL. He grouchily tore into the ham sandwich, and I'm pretty sure muttered something about these damn kids and their saggy pants, but I can't be sure.

The Vietnamese ham sandwich was terrific, and the freshly warmed baguette that encompasses the filling was warm and chewy with just enough crispy crust to lend a nice overall texture to the sandwich. There's a lot of sweetness to the sandwich, from the crunchy shredded carrots to the mellow mayo spread that covers the bread. The meat is, yes, differently flavored, with nice salty hints of fish sauce. There's plenty of cilantro, as well as giant slices of jalapeños, which might surprise (and burn) those who've never tried this particular sandwich.

I was a bit more disappointed with the barbecued pork. The flavors are all there, and I'd definitely give it another try for that very reason, but the sandwich I got that day was filled with mostly fatty pieces of meat that made for a lot of chewing and grimacing.

Baguette Up shares its space with a boba-tea-and-smoothie joint called Bobalicious, so you can enjoy gummy boba-balled beverages while waiting for your meal. I had a milk-tea smoothie that was excellent, like a frothy English Breakfast shake.

The prices are incredibly reasonable— none of the sandwiches reach $4, and there are plenty of tasty alternatives (spam and egg, anyone?) to the standard lunchtime sandwich. OMG, you should totally go there!

Write to jennym@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com.


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