What I wouldn’t give to move Claremont McKenna College smack dab to the middle of Rosemead. Because then I could drink avocado and durian milkshakes for breakfast, dine on banh mi and a variety of che’s for lunch and do it all over again for dinner. Given my limited budget, I would spend most my time at Banh Mi Che Cali where che runs $1.40/cup in junction with a neverending buy 2 get 1 free sale.

It’s always hard to pick from the rainbow flow of options: mung beans, coconut milk based, ginger syrup, sweet dumplings, flavors of pandan running loose with jellies and longan.

But eventually I settle on three, as we all must. Self-control is an issue here. Can you believe it all cost on $3.03 with tax? How can I possibly return to Starbucks after this?!

I carefully pack my goodies for the long dreary ride home to the Inland Empire, where it is difficult to find well-made che, or in fact, any che at all. Rushing back to the safety of my dorm room, I eat the sweet dumplings in ginger syrup first. It’s still a little warm, thank god, and I revel in the large chewy mochi the size of ping pong balls filled with mashed mung beans, sweetened just enough. Bites of the mochi mix with spoonfuls of heady ginger syrup, the kind that would be perfect to pour over a fresh batch of dofu fa.

And if I’m in the mood, which I usually am, I do not stop there, because foods should be eaten when they’re fresh so why don’t we just eat it all tonight. Maybe I’ll share with my roommate and we’ll move on to the sweet green rice studded with bite size gems of taro. A little cup of coconut milk is offered on the side and we lavishly pour it over. It’s the Vietnamese version of Thai sticky rice/durian/coconut milk. This is best eaten hot, so a minute in the microwave should prove perfect. And you pick up your spoon and dig in, making sure to get a fair balance between rice, milk and taro. And I eat and I’m happy, and I’m like – why this gotta be so good?

My good old standby comes in at the end, to close of my personal feast of desserts. This is a classic, coconut milk with a range of jellies, nuts and so many other things I do not know the name of :) Some look like sweet carrots, some are chewy in shades of green and beige, others are elusive long slippery pods, yet they all bath in a communal tub of coconut milk, so eager to please. Have it hot or cold, depending on the weather, but there’s no way you could or should refuse such an offering.

If your sweet tooth has taken it’s run of che, why not engage it in an array of steamed pandan cakes, banana bread, or savory treats like long sticks of cha or you tiao, and perhaps a round of the flakey pate sou.

But as I’ve said, the ride on the 10 freeway is long and boring, so to keep our tummies and taste buds happy we roll on down Valley Blvd to pick up a few car ride treats from Mr.Baguette. Thai tea for Trisha (who claims she is a borderline addict) and a calorie heavy, but so worth it, avocado milkshake for myself. It’s the ultimate drink, playing king over mochas, teas and even my ultimate sin, oreo cookie milkshakes.

A chilly blend of fresh avocados, condensed milk, regular milk and ice. While it is quite hefty, you won’t feel the least bit sick after downing the entire cup. It’s creamy but not sweet, I daresay it even tastes healthy! And avocados, why they must be the most refreshing fruit in the world, especially when served in chilled liquid form. We also take home a croissant, made in the Vietnamese tradition. More flaky than buttery, it’s quite heavenly with a spread of pate :)

Banh Mi & Che Cali
8450 Valley Boulevard
Rosemead, CA 91770

Mr. Baguette
8702 E Valley Boulevard
Rosemead, California 91770
(626) 288-9166

7 Comments
  • Kathy YL Chan
    November 30, -0001

    Hey Shann!They’d be a million times more fun if you were with us! There’s a place in hawaii chinatown that does it, we can go there during summer? :)Hey Kat!Oooh man, that all sounds so good, especially the Valhorona cake – gah, I can almost taste the chocolate right now :) That was really interesting, how they put the pickled ginger with an ahi salad, I would have never though of it, but now I can see how it would work well. And man, weren’t the popovers good though? So deceptively filling!I’m so happy you had such a good lunch, it makes me feel really happy/satisifed also – even though I wasn’t there! Gesh, now I must go when I’m back for break in march. Speaking of which, we need to find a place to met & eat! :)

  • Kat
    November 30, -0001

    Yes def! Hopefully the next time you are on the island. I’m usually here but this past couple months been crazy! I’ve been flying back and forth between here and Maui (since that’s where we’re getting married). But by the time you’re back I’m sure things will have slowed a bit!

  • Shannon
    January 28, 2007

    kathy! i’m so jealous of all your fun car adventures w/trisha! i’ve still never had an avocado milkshake :o( but now i want one

  • Kat
    January 28, 2007

    Hi Kathy! I just wanted to let you know my lunch at Mariposa was a lovely experience. The staff was really nice which was surprising since we took 2 and a half hours and it was a fairly busy Saturday lunch hour. I had seared ahi salad, which wasn’t the standard one on the menu but a special. It has a nice miso glaze dressing along with grape tomatoes and mac nuts. What really made the salad good was the addition of the pickled ginger, you know the kind that comes with sushi bento? It gave each bite a small sweet zip.The popover was very good but I only had one since the ladies I was lunching with were such good conversatoinalists. We didn’t have time to finish the popovers before our entrees arrived. One lady got the ceviche salad and kahuku corn chowder which she commented was really good. the other lady had the seared scallops which she readily finished.We also shared 2 desserts between the three of us. The special of the day was a “creamsicle cheesecake” but it didn’t taste like orange. It was a good cheesecake, light, barely sweet with a very good thick shortbread type crust. There was a citrus flavored jelly/gelatin on top which may have inspired the name. It was really good.The other dessert was a Valrona chocolate fudge cake. I call it “death by chocolate” because although good, it was deathly rich. I think there were four layers of a very chocolatey cake, which was very good and not too sweet, but the death came from the three layers of fudge (nearly solid chocolate) between the cake. It almost had the texture of a truffle. Soooo chocolatey.Anyway, it was all very good and I thouroughly enjoyed everything! Thanks for warning me about the pop over because if I had two, I’d have died by stomach explosion at the end of the salad!

  • anonymous
    January 29, 2007

    Oh MY lord! You are a gal certainly true to your blog description! I’ve never heard of any of this stuff but they all look so good that I wish that I could move to the middle of Rosemead. The coconut milk based soup reminded me of a coconut dish called Tambo-Tambo (dunno if that’s spelled right) at a New Year’s eve party. It’s sweet with mochi dumplings and bananas in it, and I tried so hard to find a recipe on the net but no luck.I really envy your grindz…super ono-licious!

  • Kathy YL Chan
    January 30, 2007

    Hey Kat!Okay then! Man am I excited, we should go somewhere reeeeaaaly yummy…with dessert on the menu of course! :)Hey Rowena!That sounds exactly like another Vietnamese dessert…I used to get it a lot in Hawaii, but oddly enough, haven’t seen it in LA before. Which ethnic group is tambo-tambo from?But sigh…now that I’ve read your post, all I REALLY want is oxtail soup! :)

  • Chubbypanda
    January 31, 2007

    Whazzat I see from my office window. Little Saigon? Oh my! =DI love the 3 for two deals at Bahn Mi Che Cali. Can’t go too often, or I’ll wind up all roly-poly.

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