Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Damn that Anthony Bourdain

Loyal readers know of my fondness for “No Reservations,” Bourdain’s television show. Remember how I bit my knuckles watching him eat grilled caviar at Etxebarri in Spain? Or how I gripped the couch as he forked the chorizo at that restaurant?

Well, with his recent episode about Vietnam, he tempted me again:

Since watching that show a few weeks ago, I’ve had a serious craving for bánh mì. It’s been a long time since I’ve had this sandwich and its lovely Vietnamese-French flavors.

Given the Valley’s large Southeast Asian population, might it be possible to find one nearly as good as this? I probably won’t get the fried egg (sigh), but please, give me a good baguette stuffed with pork, cilantro, jalapeños, picked carrots and daikon, cucumber, pâté and mayonnaise.

Luckily, Dave Williams, also known as PolarBear at Chowhound, has indulged in this particular obsession. Based on his recommendations and some follow-up e-mails, here’s where I’m headed:

May Cafe To Go
2327 N. Fresno St. # 102
(559) 225-7990

Paradise Restaurant (also known as Pho Paradise)
1848 N. 1st St.
(559) 264-9025

Anyone else have a tried-and-true source in the Valley?

Responses to "Damn that Anthony Bourdain"

Heather says:

I love “No Reservations.” I saw this episode and thought the bánh mì looked pretty good, too. I’m not sure how I feel about paté, though. Report back!

since watching ‘no reservations’ for oh.i dunno..a year or so now…my asian food intake has quadrupled!

I always end up getting hungry for some of great laos, vietnamese, thai, or hmong food we have in fresno!

I used to go to Paradise all the time..I was introduced by my old guitarist Nao (and coincidentally he played for the hmong pop band – paradise)

…but my loyalty is now with pho 75…they have the best sandwiches there!

Joan Obra says:

@ Heather: You can always ask for one without the pâté.

@ Patrick: Oh, I know what you mean about Bourdain’s Asian food fetish. It’s contagious!

Which sandwich do you prefer at Pho 75?

ed says:

i’m not sure if it’s the same sandwich, but Queen Sandwich & Cake has a super good one that they call a Vietnamese sandwich. I think it’s got everything you describe, sans egg.

Queen Sandwich & Cake
2318 N Fresno St, Fresno, CA 93703
Southeast corner of Clinton and Fresno

Bob says:

I live in Orange County, where there are many more listings for “Nguyen” than “Smith” in several cities’ phone books. There are mom-and-pop banh mi and pho places everywhere serving good food for ultra-cheap.

There is even a franchised chain restaurant, Lee’s Sandwiches, with numerous locations in Northern and Southern California (stangely, none near Fresno. Check out pictures of their sandwiches:

Joan Obra says:

@ed: Thanks for the tip. Are they freshly made at Queen? I’m trying to avoid the shrink-wrapped stuff.

@ Bob: Nice photos. Did you click on bánh mì in my post? It links to the scrumptious photos at

ed says:

i am pretty sure they bake their bread each day and make the sandwich when you order it. i have eaten there once but my wife has been back a few times and enjoyed them each time. they also do slices of cake each day.
good stuff

Jeff Avis says:

Another follower of Tony here! Now you’ve given me another scent to follow! I’ll report back with any good finds. Thank you!

Cameron Jones says:

My neighbor, Stanley Lam, own Fuzion Deli on the corner of Fowler and Ashlan in the strip mall behind the Chevron. He sells the sandwiches there, and I had never heard of it or had one before. They are absolutely delicious! He will do them vegetarian style, with meat, and you can get them spicy!

Kristy says:

Where is Pho 75?

jsv says:

I love the vietnamese sandwiches. You can find them at most pho places. There is also a sandwich shop in the corner of Shaw and Peach that makes them. I dont remember what its called but for those of you who live in clovis or north fresno this is probably the closest place to get it. It is a small place on the south west side of the parking lot near the Home Town buffet.

wacko says:

several pho places (pho 75, 99, 1, paradise)are located at the corner of First & Mc Kinley in fresno. A lot of fresnans are to scared to go down there, but if you want good pho, this is where its at. I’ve eaten at pho places in LA, SF, and Minneapolis. Our pho here is way better, but that is my opinion.

Nicole says:

My parents live in Houston where the Asian population is through the roof! I had my first Banh Mi experience there. It is so delicious and refreshing and I can’t wait to try a local one from one the many shops we have. Thanks for this post!

Janet S says:

I’ve got a Vietnamese sandwich list on my Yelp account. Queen Cake and sandwich just stopped putting carrots in their sandwiches. Is there a carrot shortage?! The former owner of Queen Cake has a shop at the north west corner of Barstow and Cedar. It’s another Bakery/Sandwich shop.

Janet S says:

The sandwich place I just referred to is called Piece of Cake . . . Barstow and Cedar . . . in the shopping center caddycorner from CSUF.

Joan Obra says:

Thanks for this list! I’m posting the link here for easy access:

Lisa says:

Here’s another vote for Queen cake and sandwich. The bread is fresh and wonderful, and the contents delicious. The fresh coconut cake is fantastic, too!

Leighton says:

Stanley has also reopened Naked Fish at Ashlan and Fresno. His menu includes the vietnamese sandwiches that they make at Fusion Deli. If what you want isn’t offered on the menu, just ask and in most cases Stanley will make you you happy!

Joan Obra says:

Looks like they’re experimenting with bánh mì in New York.

According to this New York Times story, they’re adding Polish sausage and caramelized onions to bánh mì. And yes, I want to try that bánh mì with the flavors of pho.

Be sure to check out the graphic!