LA Day 6 – A Legendary Sandwich, A Vietnamese Sandwich, Beer Geek Heaven, and Hong Kong-Style Chinese

After learning how to navigate the city with a combination of Google Maps, transit, and Uber/Lyft, we decided to head to Chinatown and take a train towards the southeast.

  • Philippe The Original (Chinatown)
  • Buu Dien Banh Mi (Chinatown)
  • The Bruery (Placentia)
  • Garden Cafe (Alhambra)

Philippe The Original

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Can you believe that Philippe has been operating in this location since 1951? And their previous spot opened up in 1908? Incredible. Institutions like this are rare in Vancouver. Argo Cafe comes to mind.

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The menu is full of diner/deli-type eats, but we’re here for the famous French Dipped Sandwiches and maybe a slice of old school pie!

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Here’s a panorama of the place. Communal seating, a wide service counter, busy atmosphere, full of tourists AND locals.

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We went with the classic beef one. Wish we had more time and stomachs to try all of the meats! You can also add cheese to your French dip, but we stuck with the basic version.

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I was surprised to see some decent beer here (aside from the Bud Light, of course). Vancouver has a lot of catching up to do.

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Branded swag.

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Self-serve water station.

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Sawdust on the cement floor. I have no idea why.

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Beef French Dipped Sandwich (Double-dipped). You can get single-dip, double-dip, or “wet”. You can read more about the differences between the dips in this great Eater article.

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Lovely fresh, homemade flavour. I think for my preference, I’d get “wet” next time to get it really saturated with au jus 😉

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That spicy horseradish mustard really goes up your nose! Awesome!

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Wicca got a side of Pickled Beets. They were really sour and hurt my teeth. I better see the dentist 😛

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We chatted a bit with the father and daughter sitting across from us. They actually live in Los Angeles, so it was nice to see that it wasn’t all tourists eating here. He surprised us with these drinks! Really cool of him! He got a sandwich to-go for his wife. What a nice guy…

There’s a stereotype about rude Americans but America is so diverse you can’t really paint them all with the same brush. We encountered super-nice people all through our trip, and maybe a little less friendly people. But I could say the exact same thing about Vancouverites.

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Pecan Pie. Straight-up classic American pie. Wicca loved it.

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The filling was firm enough to hold its shape and wasn’t too sweet.

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This isn’t high-end cuisine, and it’s not gonna blow you away, but it’s totally well-done, homey, non-pretentious, handmade American comfort food. I’d come back. And order my sandwich “wet”.

Philippe, The Original on Urbanspoon


The Bruery (with a Banh Mi from Buu Dien Banh Mi)

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A few blocks away from Philippe is this Vietnamese place I probably read an article about then starred in my Google Maps. We got two banh mi for our long train ride to The Bruery in Placentia.

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About an hour and 20 minutes later, we arrived at The Bruery.

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I had to pinch myself.

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There was the Bacon Mania food truck parked outside that day. I already had banh mi though 🙁

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The space is bigger than I thought it’d be. People online were complaining about how small the place is, but I think it’s a typical size for a lot of breweries.

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The massive beer list. The Bruery specialize in creative, high ABV beers. Lots of barrel-aged beers.

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The massive beer list continued.

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Service at the bar.

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Jerky and pretzels available all the time if you don’t wanna do the food truck.

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And of course branded swag.

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This is just pure beer porn now. These were some of the bottles for sale that day. The Or Xata is inspired by Mexican horchata.

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Freckle is a mole imperial stout (as in Mexican mole).

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Golden Orchard Belgian-style golden ale for a damn good price, considering The Bruery bottles (the few we do get in Vancouver) are double the price or more.

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Saison Rue is actually one of their beers that I have seen available in BC.

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Tripel Tonnellerie. I tried this one as part of my flight, below.

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Mischief. So no really rare or coveted bottles on sale that day. I’m sure they get snatched up super quick. I stopped chasing rare whales anyways 😉

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It’s a beer geek’s paradise!

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The Bruery brings all the beer geeks to the yard. I saw people walking out with cases of stuff, and plenty of “beer sniffers”.

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Some bacon-laden thing from the food truck. Looked good from my vantage point.

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DIY flights, with 2oz pours for as little as $1 (and as much as $4.50)!

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The Bruery also has memberships that entitle you to exclusive beers. This might go against your sense of democracy, but there are plenty of beer geeks out there lining up to join their “Reserve Society”.

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First flight (left to right):

  • Or Xata (7%) – Horchata-inspired blonde ale. It really does taste like horchata! Creamy and slick quality from the addition of lactose. Rice, cinnamon, yeast. Sweet.
  • Loakal Red (6.9%) – Hoppy red ale aged with oak. Fruity and dank hop aroma. I didn’t get much oak initially…it comes out more in the finish. Dry. Good!
  • Bierbara (8.1%) – Dark ale with Alvarelhão (red wine) grapes. Aroma of tart, musky grapes with a slight alcohol sting. Finishes slightly sweet with dark malts. There’s a balance between the tartness and the maltiness. Not quite my thing.
  • Autumn Maple (10%) – Dark ale with yams and spices. I got the essence of caramelized, sticky yams and spices, but I wouldn’t say I got actual yam in it. Maybe more the sweetness and spices associated with yams. Sticky. It would be tough for me to finish a whole bottle of this because of its richness.
  • Freckle (10.8%) – Mole imperial stout. Super chocolate on the nose. Smooth but with a bit of an alcohol burn at the back. Would go awesome with a Mexican-inspired bacon hot dog.

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I liked the Freckle from the first flight enough to buy a bottle to take home.

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Second flight:

  • Saison Rue 2014 (9.5%) – Farmhouse-style saison. Bubbly, yeasty with tart citrus. It’s a strong, sticky saison.
  • Tripel Tonnellerie (9.5%) – Oak-fermented Belgian-style tripel. Yeasty, sweet, bubbly tripel but with an astringent, dry finish. Drinks easier than 9.5%. Alcohol is well-hidden.
  • Blueberry Smoking Wood (12.8%) – Bourbon barrel aged smoked imperial porter with blueberries and maple syrup. Tons of bourbon barrel aroma. Rich, sweet, very smooth. Not as “hot” alcohol-wise as I thought it would be. I didn’t get any blueberry. The darkest beer that I tried that day.
  • Bois – Rye (15%) – Barrel aged anniversary old ale. Sweet, syrupy, super-distilled territory. Almost like whiskey-meets-beer.
  • Sucre – Tequila (15%) – Another barrel aged anniversary old ale. Strong, hot, a definite sipper. Would delight the beer geeks. I got a long milk chocolate-like finish. Not super complex, but what is there is super smooth and enjoyable. A great beer that was my favourite out of the flight.

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One more shot of these lovely 2oz pours: Blueberry Smoking Wood, Bois – Rye, and Sucre – Tequila.

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Finally breaking out that banh mi from Buu Dien.

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Ingredients were plentiful and fresh-tasting. Missing that Maggi Sauce though, and we could’ve used more pate. But the ingredients that were there were good.

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Banh Mi and a Tripel. My new food crush.

When eaten with the tripel though, the combination was magic. Something about the sweetness and bubbliness of the tripel made it work really well with all the flavours of the banh mi. I tried eating a banh mi with a Belgian tripel again when I got back to Vancouver, and I think it’s my new go-to beer and food pairing.

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The Bruery is pretty far from downtown LA, the beers are way higher in ABV than I usually drink, but I really enjoyed my time there. If you consider yourself a beer geek, you need to make the effort to check this place out.

Buu Dien on Urbanspoon


Garden Cafe

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Back in the San Gabriel Valley area, and time for HK cafe-style Cantonese eats.

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Tomato soup for the table to start. Keebler brand Zesta crackers. We don’t get Keebler in Canada.

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Kang Kong (aka water spinach, morning glory, water convolvulus). One of the great Asian vegatables, with green leafy parts and crunchy hollow stalky parts.

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Braised Ox Tongue Stew in tomato sauce. Tongue was tender. Pretty good as far as tongue dishes go.

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Braised Oxtail Stew in (I think) a red wine sauce. The meat was tender and quite enjoyable to eat with mounds of rice.

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Some spicy hot pot dish with clams and vermicelli. Bit of a sichuan influence in this dish with the dried whole chilies.

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A lotus root stirfry. Well seasoned.

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A big crispy pork hock dish served with mashed potatoes, peas/corn/carrots, sauerkraut, and gravy. I find it interesting that Chinese people like this German dish enough to have it on the menu at a HK-style cafe. The Deutsches Haus (Vancouver Alpen Club) on Victoria Drive in Vancouver has “Haxen Thursdays” where you can get a similar dish for $12.99. Apparently tons of Chinese people go there for it. There’s also Chinese places in Richmond that serve this dish but I’ll have to hunt them down…

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I loved the tender pork and fat with the crispy skin. It was easy to eat too much.

Alhambra Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon


Continue with LA Trip Report Day 7 or go back to the index.

One thought on “LA Day 6 – A Legendary Sandwich, A Vietnamese Sandwich, Beer Geek Heaven, and Hong Kong-Style Chinese”

  1. Well first I have to say that after reading six days, Wicca is a great sport to be going to all these breweries!

    That pecan pie looks sooooo good. Where do you even get a pie that thick in Vancouver… (Besides The Pie Hole The Pie Shoppe which I’m a little put off with because they were not friendly to us when we went that time…)

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