Siem Reap Sandwich Shop [Oakland]

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.


I stopped at Siem Reap a few days ago at lulnchtime and ordered the beef sandwich for $3.75 including tax. The man at the front counter who took the order said that they had only been open a few weeks and that they would expand the menu with new items soon. There were two women with him who were helping out. When I asked the man if the food was Laotian he responded that it was Cambodian. Currently, the menu consists of 3 kinds of banh mi, green papaya salad and some fruit drinks.

There’s also a Cambodian market with takeout items nearby, Mithapheap [Sontepheap] Market at the north end of the mini mall at 1400 International Blvd., where I’ve often picked up an appealing noodle soup with fresh herbs ($6).

My Siem Reap beef banh mi was ready in a minute or two, had strips of grilled beef scented with lemongrass on a bed of carrot, jalapeno, radish and cabbage. While I was there, 4 or 5 other customers came in who appeared to me, at least, to be local office workers and also ordered.

This location at the northeast corner of International and 15th Avenue was vacant for years except when it was operating as an annex to Banh Mi Ba Le at International and 19th Avenue.

The interior looks modern yet economical with mosaic wall tiles and brushed metal on the window frames and the support for the front counter. Bus stops for the recently reinvigorated AC Transit Line 1 are about 40 yards away and the buses are supposed to run as often as every 12 minutes.

Given some more time, I’d like to see what this spot can develop into.

Here’s a link to a photo slideshow with music I did of the shop with details of their menu and hours.

Siem Reap Sandwich Shop
1500 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94606
(510) 698-6269
Hours: Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm, closed Sunday

had the Cambodian bbq banh mi. (3.75) a few weeks ago.
found the meat chewy, like jerky
lingering aftertase confounded me, not just msg
rest of sammie above average,

parking is terrible here. beware of parking enforcement folks.

Interesting–it looks like they’ve changed a bit since I was there–there definitely wasn’t any cabbage slaw on my sandwiches!

What kind of noodle soup do they have at Mithapheap? Separately I came across this interesting blog post about them via Google.

Hi sck,
Around lunchtime, Mithapheap has a few noodle soup kits available near the front cash register to go for about $6 including tax, the last time I was there. The broth is a green curry that comes in a 16- or 20-oz white styrofoam cup and is warm to the touch. In a clear plastic clamshell comes a large clump of rice vermicelli noodles along with small Thai chilies, jalapeno slices, lime wedge, mint/basil/other fresh herbs and a pair of wooden chopsticks.

There are no seats in the market and they might run out of soup if you get there late. Also available is a pickled fruit salad made up mostly of chopped apples that had been marinated for a day in a vinegar pickling brine and is sold by weight. A thick, spicy vegetable dip in a clear plastic tub is about $5 or so and is stored in the fridge in the back of the store near the northeast side.

Up until a few weeks ago there was a a combination taco and banh mi shop in the minimall in the spot closest to International Blvd but that has been replaced by a different banh mi maker sans tacos. Luke wrote about the change a week or two ago in the East Bay Express.

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Is it true that this place is closed now?

haven’t seen it open for at least a month. assumed it’s closed.

Already? What happened to them?

just closed one day. doesn’t look like there’s a sign saying why.
parking bad. their pricing higher than competition. guessing these would be the reasons.

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Sunday market in Ubud, Indonesia
Credit: Roozbeh Rokni, Flickr