Sure, the San Gabriel Valley is home to countless strip-mall banh mi joints, and Banh Mi My Tho is no different. Almost. Walk inside this tiny, shiny Vietnamese sandwich shop, and you'll think you've been transported not to Vietnam but maybe the best gas station convenience store ever. On your right, boxed green tea peeks out from stacked cardboard boxes. On your left, lotto tickets waiting for your bubbles like a Scantron answer sheet. The hot case that dominates the counter — filled with days-old corn dogs and stale pretzels at your local Shell station — is stuffed with egg rolls, meat pies and nem nuong (pork) on a stick. The little counter space that remains is where you order the cheapest of lunches: the charbroiled pork banh mi sandwich and a Vietnamese coffee, which cost roughly the same amount as a gallon of gas. Lunch for less than a Lincoln? Fill 'er up. 304 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. (626) 289-4160,

—Tien Nguyen

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