Last Saturday I headed for my usual banh mi pickup, and found Ba Le on International Blvd. closed. I had noticed construction activity at their (I assumed from the awning, it was never open during my tenure) former shop on International and 15th Ave, which now bore the banner of Siem Reap Sandwich Shop. The owner told me they had been open for two days. There were four sandwich choices, grilled beef, pork belly, BBQ chicken, and shrimp. There were a couple other menu options, including “Lao-style” papaya salad.
We got the beef, shrimp, and pork belly banh mi, and I was pleasantly surprised at this take on the Vietnamese sandwiches. They were served on my favorite roll–I think it is from Bui Phong, but it maintains the most crispness on the exterior while still having a soft interior. The usual do chua (radish/carrot pickle) was replaced with carrot and green papaya, lightly pickled and not as sweet as most do chua. The spread was also different–it seemed to be mayo mixed with some pureed red chilis, or perhaps lightly fermented chili paste, adding extra spice to the sandwich. Cilantro, jalapeno, and cucumber were included as usual, and quite fresh. My favorite filling was the pork belly, but all were well prepared.