Las Vegas’ Chinatown is actually very California. Our original Chinatown Plaza, opened in 1994 thanks to Los Angeles developers, is still anchored by LA-area businesses like Sam Woo BBQ and 99 Ranch Market. And as Vegas Chinatown expands up and down Spring Mountain, so does its SoCal influence.
Now we’ve got one more. Lee’s Sandwiches is a dynasty that originated with a Vietnamese banh mi shop on Bolsa Avenue in Westminster (LA’s Little Saigon), and now there are stores in five states. (They eat banh mi in Texas? I don’t believe it.) The new Vegas shop is right next to the beloved Pho Kim Long Vietnamese restaurant.
Lee’s is known for not only serving traditional banh mi—Asian cold cuts and fresh veggies on French baguettes—but also “European” sandwiches on fresh croissants. This eatery has all kinds of goodies, from gourmet iced coffees, Italian sodas and smoothies to pastries and, coming soon, frozen yogurt. It’s open 24 hours, which is incredibly convenient, and it accepts cash only, which is not. Still, it’s a big, fun, lively sandwich shop.
And those sandwiches are pretty good. Lee’s has a cool baguette-making robo-machine, and the bread tastes great and is obviously fresh. As is the case with most banh mi shops, the baguette can get a little dry, which can tear the you-know-what out of your mouth once you get chomping. There are vast and varied sandwich filling options, including chicken, pork, vegetables and even sardines. I’d recommend the Special Combination, which has sliced ham, head cheese, pork roll and pâté, a real mouthful of flavors in every bite. Other selections, like the pork roll and pâté combo, might end up a little skimpy on the insides. Croissants are a little buttery and soft compared to the baguette, and you can order them with these crazy meats or more pedestrian stuff like turkey, salami, American cheese and roast beef. Add extras of avocado, bacon or more pâté to any sandwich.
If you’re a Chinatown devotee like me, you’ll stop by Lee’s Sandwiches at some point. It’s another welcome addition to our other strip of great eating.