Tuesday, October 18, 2005
No Napkin Needed: Lee's Deli-Manjoo
Walking into the popular Vietnamese sandwich chain Lee's Sandwiches, one would expect the initial aroma to be one of pate or daikon or pork roll, but no such luck. It's quite the opposite, in fact. At Lee's your first whiff is often that of vanilla and eggs, something that you'd expect from a bakery or even an ice cream shop that made fresh waffle cones. Is this the sweet smell of bahn mi? Nope--it's actually the smell of Deli-Manjoo, mini cream-filled cakes made fresh at Lee's.
The folks at Lee's turn these little guys out, just like their sandwiches, with factory-like efficiency using some kind of automated heated plate molds. I've seen them make these a thousand times while waiting to pick up my bahn mi order. Today, I just couldn't stand it any more and had to get some of this vanilla scented goodness that I'd been passing up all this time. For a buck I got a bag of four, which was the perfect amount to snack on while driving around Alhambra all morning and to tie me over until I got to sit down somewhere and eat my sandwich.
I bit into my first minature-ear-of-corn-shaped Deli-Manjoo and got a little dab of creamy custardy filling. The thing was more cake than anything, reminding me a little of a madeleine, but not as delicate. I was expecting a mess! The sign at Lee's said "Caution--The Filling Is Hot!" I thought there'd be thick, hot custard dripping and burning me as I drove down Valley Blvd, but I was wrong. All I got was a smidgen of lukewarm vanilla cream that was a wee bit on the runny side. The verdict? These don't make for a good Carl's Jr. commercial. And they were good, but not great. Lee's thrills me much more with their sandwiches.
1289 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801
other locations in Southern California