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Our Weekly Bread: Ba Le Sandwich

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The Sandwich: BBQ Pork and Special Combo What's on it: Pork and other meats, cilantro, cucumber, carrots, peppers Where to get it: Ba Le Sandwich, 1044 South Federal Boulevard, 303-922-2129 How much: $2.75 each

Back away from the pastrami, sir. And step off the turkey and Swiss. It's time to try to something different -- and for that, I went to Ba Le Sandwich, a hole-in-the-wall storefront nearly undistinguishable from 10,000 other little hole-in-the-wall storefronts on South Federal Boulevard.

What sets Ba Le apart, however, is its specialty: Vietnamese sandwiches that take one part Vietnamese ingredients and one part French flair and mash them together. The result is a selection of inexpensive, unusual and unusually tasty meals.

The basic premise: pork and other meats topped with cilantro, carrots, peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables, all stuffed inside a French-style mini-baguette. A little smaller than a typical six-inch sub, these sandwiches are much lighter because they're a bit skimpy on the ingredients, which is fine, since you can eat two for about the same price as a six-inch sub somewhere else. The sandwiches -- wrapped cheerily in white paper and colored rubber bands -- would also make a brilliant fast-food concept, since the crisp baguettes close entirely around the fillings and are easy to handle while driving - not that I would ever do that, officer.

In fact, the rolls had a sort of magical quality that I can't quite explain. Crunchy and light, with an almost toasted texture on the outside, they were soft and smeared with something mayonnaissy to make them soft on the inside.

The BBQ Pork (also called the No. 2) was a little light on the meat, but the sweet pork went well with the mildly spicy peppers and cilantro. I'm not exactly sure what was in the Special Combo (the No. 3), but it was damn good. There were at least three kinds of sliced meats, possibly of a hamish or bologne-esque nature, but tasting more like barbequed pork than the pork. It also had a pate of some sort smeared on the bread. Both sandwiches were filled with veggies.

I probably should have asked exactly what I was eating, but I prefer the mystery.

For other sandwiches, check the Our Weekly Bread archive.

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