Since my favorite Baguette Express closed, most of the San Gabriel Valley's banh mi spots I've tried have been tiny, with no seating and cramped (Banh Mi My Tho) or chaotic and none-too-hygenic (Banh Mi Che Cali.) But now Tip Top's has opened on Valley Blvd. in Rosemead, setting the bar much higher for banh mi emporia. FoodGPS rated the Orange County branch highly in his Little Saigon banh mi bender, so I was excited to try it. We'll get to the sandwiches in a minute. Tip Top's is a veritable food court unto itself. There's a bakery counter, with eclairs, sponge cake (left) as well as super-cheap fresh out of the oven baguettes. (Sure, they're super light and airy, not exactly artisanal, but they make great sandwiches.)
Then there's a gelato bar, with a good selection of flavors including caramel, peach-mango and peanut. Then there's a smoothie bar, with a variety of fresh fruit piled up waiting to make creations like the Wild Skinny juice or the Protector.
Then, there's a coffee bar with Vietnamese coffee as well as cappucino and ice-blendeds. Not full yet? A self-serve frozen yogurt bar offers more than a dozen flavors (taro!) of yogurt with self-serve Vietnamese toppings like jello (at left) as well as the usual Jelly Bellys and M&Ms. Oh, and there's a colorful party room, should your inner 8-year old want to throw a banh mi and yogurt party.
As for the main attractions, the banh mi are first-rate. The super-fresh bread really elevates the sandwiches, which are stuffed with plenty of shredded veggies and available in bbq pork, bbq chicken, deli special, sardine and a few others. There's also a menu of Western sandwiches on foccacia bread like roast beef or egg salad, as well as Vietnamese meat pies, packaged snacks and all the fixings for making banh mi at home like pate and canned sardines. And, it's open from 5 am to midnight, making it a perfect stop to stock up for a trip to the desert, for example.
Tip Top's Sandwiches
8522 Valley Blvd