The San Gabriel Valley certainly has more bánh mì joints per city block than any area of Los Angeles, but when your Vietnamese-sandwich craving hits — or you only have three bucks and some change to spend on lunch — and downtown is as far as you can go, head to Buu Dien tucked in a small plaza in Chinatown. If the shop didn't validate, parking in the lot would be $5, or about twice as much as one of its sandwiches; but even if you had to pay for parking, that bánh mì would be worth it. The bread is soft and crackled, the fillings are as pork-intensive as you'd like, and the key to any bánh mì —that pâté, that pâté — has just the right balance of musk and sweet. The San Gabriel Valley can wait. 642 N. Broadway, Chinatown. (213) 617-8355. —Tien Nguyen

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