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Lee's Sandwiches, UC Irvine


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Opened on the 8th. It's in the old Denny's space right across from the campus. It's already packed. Prices are exactly the same $1.75 for a sandwich, which I cannot understand because the rent has got to be sky high. Lots of seating for students. Computers are up but not running yet.

coupon here for free cafe or baguette with sandwich purchase, good until 1/31

This place is going to put Le Diplomate and that $4 boba joint, Cha for Tea OUT OF BUSINESS!

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Joan:

Have you tried it? There's one opening very soon in Cupertino (South Bay - Northen CA) very close to where I work. Anxious to know if it's any good.

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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samgiovese--

I've been to a couple of locations, and while people will tell you such and such place has better bread than Lee's Sandwiches, and this other place has better fillings, bigger portions, etc. Lee's Sandwiches is for many of my friends, the standard. Also, it doesn't hurt that some of the stores are open 24/7, like for instance the new UC Irvine branch. Also, the Brookhurst branch.

In my experience, the bread is pretty crusty, more so than some other Viet bakeries around here. Fillings are standard (ham, beef, pate, chicken, vegetarian etc) and, the price is good ($1.75 per approx 6" sandwich) I've also had the croissant sandwiches, which I didn't like as well, but that is just me. At the larger branches, they have a good selection of sweets and drinks as well.

Check the website mentioned above for hours and locations. I noticed they are agressively expanding, and I hope it works out well for them.

--I should have said the bread was chewy not crusty. Knew that wasn't right.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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It seems like Cha is a totally different business, so I think they'll hang on. The late-night crowd, especially during testing, seems pretty prolific. On a side note, do you go to the farmer's market on Saturday's? There are a few really great vendors there. I've also been meaning to try that new Indian restaurant that just opened up.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Joan:

Have you tried it?  There's one opening very soon in Cupertino (South Bay - Northen CA) very close to where I work.  Anxious to know if it's any good.

One just opened on Monterey Road, just south of Capitol Expressway in San Jose. It has been jammed since opening day, which was only a few weeks ago.

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There's a newly opened (a few months old I think) one in Sunnyvale. We've tried it a few times, its pretty good. Before this, we had to drive down to San Jose (near Tully Rd) for the nearest Lee's Sandwich.

Looks like they are on an expansion spree. I wonder if they will be able to keep their quality good and prices low.

EDIT: darned typos.

Edited by bong (log)
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It seems like Cha is a totally different business, so I think they'll hang on.  The late-night crowd, especially during testing, seems pretty prolific.  On a side note, do you go to the farmer's market on Saturday's?  There are a few really great vendors there.  I've also been meaning to try that new Indian restaurant that just opened up.

Cha for Tea has some good lunch specials. I'll say that about them. I also like their peanut butter on toast, but not enough to pay for it.

I love the farmer's market on Sat. In fact, I was going to put up some of my pics sometime soon, but haven't had the chance.

I've been to Chakra four times now, since it opened in Nov(?). I like the lunch menu (which is unfortunately limited to about 10 choices), some would say whitewashed, some would say expensive for what you get, not many Indian customers, but I love the presentation of the food, and damn it I will continue going. Also, I think this is one beautiful restaurant. I will try to remember to take pics next time.

Went to Lee's Sandwiches for dinner. Packed. Had very good, strong free iced lemonade, free baguette, free corn cookies, saw free coconut cookies but didn't have any. Oh and got my $1.75 banh mi (baguette sandwich) and my avocado milkshake. Took a closer look at the place and saw they sell ice cream too.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Well, obviously I'm in the area so you can always look me up. I'd love to join up again. By the way, that hot dog shop is now a gelato place. Actually, it's now my favorite around these parts. I like their hazelnut and some of their sorbets.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Lee's, Bolsa store. Sardine, with extra extra jalapeno. Aaah. Iced cafe filtre. A table in weak sunlight with a view of the street. Sunglasses, and a cigarette. Oh wait, I don't smoke. But still.

Saw to my surprise the Fullerton one the other week, bitterly rued there having been no Lee's in Fullerton when I lived in Fullerton.

Yes, the bread at Thuy's is better. Also Thuy's cafe is better -- the best ever, in fact. But I am mesmerized, if not mind-controlled, by Lee's blinking computer screens and the groovy world-weary clientele. Plus, at the Bolsa store, one can walk around the corner and buy ingredients for that night's dinner.

(Very good, very lively farmer's market, Irvine on Saturdays. Some of my favorite vendors of many years and many markets sell there. Very convenient to have a Lee's on site.)

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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But I am mesmerized, if not mind-controlled, by Lee's blinking computer screens and the groovy world-weary clientele.

Went there again this morning for breakfast, because the voice in my head saying "Number twelve, your order is ready" would not stop until I had sandwich with (free) iced coffee.

I think for first timers, the #1 is a good choice, but that is just my opinion. This is what I got for breakfast today. You get a couple of slices of cold cuts, pate, some veggies, jalapenos (you might ask them to leave these off if you wish), one small sprig cilantro. You don't get large amounts of meat and veggies the way you do with American style sandwiches, in fact it might look a little stingy to people who are not used to it.

However, there are plenty of banh mi shops that give you more stuff, better ingredients, cheaper prices than Lee's does, so that's something to keep in mind too. But ya gotta try Lee's once in your life. Also, once you branch out, you can be part of the in crowd by complaining about Lee's crappy ingredients and stingy hand with the fillings. hehe :biggrin:

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, we went to Lee's today, after the 13-year-old took his PSAT, conveniently directly across the street at UCI, and may I say what a pleasure. We got a #6 bbq pork, a #9 sardine, and a #15 herb beef, which is a sliced terrine-like deli meat product. All were excellent -- excepting that there was no visible extra jalapeno on my sardine. I made do with regular jalapeno.

Also what was described by its consumer as "the best smoothie ever," in strawberry, and two excellent iced cafes with condensed milk, which Lee's takes the liberty of calling Lee's coffee.

No complaints about the bread, at all: It was very very good, better than it has been at the Bolsa store ... fresher and not superdense. Maybe Bolsa doesn't bake on-site?

Also, the coffee was better than Bolsa's -- maybe not QUITE as good as Thuy's but dang good.

My major complaint: A total lack of world-weariness. In fact, quite sunny and bright and jingle-jangling. A portent, almost certainly, as Lee's expands into its cannily self-created market. There are a lot of people out there who don't (yet) know how much they like banh mi.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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I used to mostly frequent the Brookhurst store, before this one came along. The bread is definitely better here at the new UCI branch. Part of it, I think is the extremely high turnover. When I go for dinner, there are routinely 40 people in line ahead of me. I counted. When i go for lunch about 20-30. Even at 9pm at night there hasbeen a long line.

Actually, I have a hard time criticizing the sandwiches at the new UCI Lee's. I've had almost all the sandwiches on the board now, and most everything has been good to excellent. Did you see their ice cream? Durian ice cream among others. I had some and it was pretty good if a bit too sweet for me, was definitely durian.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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We tried eating at Lee's for lunch today but it was simply too crowded to consider it as an option. I think sessions at UCI just started and I'm not exaggerating when I say there were probably 75 people in line. I couldn't even get near the board to see what I might want. We ended up at the Asia Noodle House for my usual, curry noodles with shrimp, chicken, and peppers.

I would guess the whole open 24-hours daily is really going to be huge for Lee's. Looks like In-N-Out has some hearty competition for the odd-hour diners.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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There's a newly opened (a few months old I think) one in Sunnyvale. We've tried it a few times, its pretty good. Before this, we had to drive down to San Jose (near Tully Rd) for the nearest Lee's Sandwich.

Looks like they are on an expansion spree. I wonder if they will be able to keep their quality good and prices low.

Thanks for the reminder; I also have made the hike down to the Tully Rd store in San Jose; have been waiting for the Sunnyvale branch to open.

Does anyone know where in CA they originated? (I used to think the Tully Rd was it, but maybe they are originally from SoCal?)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Does anyone know where in CA they originated?  (I used to think the Tully Rd was it, but maybe they are originally from SoCal?)

No they are not originally from SoCal.  They started out in San Jose.  Don't know which one was first location.

From http://www.leesandwiches.com/corporateinfo/timeline.cfm :

Lee's Sandwiches Timeline

1980 -- Le Family immigrates from VietNam to San Jose, a Valley of Love in Northern California.

1981 -- Le Family purchase first catering truck. Lee Bros. Foodservices, Inc. is established. Family chooses Lee Bros. as name for company instead of Le Family because it is more Anglo sounding.

1983 -- Lee’s Sandwiches moves on a catering truck to downtown San Jose.

A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS:

2001 -- With a completely new concept of a fast food store, Lee’s Sandwiches opened its first store in Westminster, Orange County, Southern California.

2002 -- Four new Lee’s Sandwiches stores open – two in San Jose and two in Orange County. A total of five stores are in operation.

2003 -- Three new Lee’s Sandwiches stores open – one in San Jose, one in Fullerton and in Alhambra. A total of eight stores are in operation.

2003 -- Lee Brothers honored by the regional office of the Small Business Administration with its Regional Entrepreneurial Success Award.

2003 -- Chieu Le has been recognized as the Business Person of the year.

2004 -- Lee’s Sandwiches stores scheduled to open in Milpitas, Union City, Santa Cruz, Chandler, Arizona (suburban Phoenix), Irvine, Rosemead, one additional location in Westminster and two additional locations in San Jose.

2004 -- Lee’s Sandwiches International plans on franchising Lee’s Sandwiches.

And from http://www.leesandwiches.com/corporateinfo/profile.cfm :

In 1983, Chieu’s parents started to serve Vietnamese type sandwiches on the catering truck to the community. At that time, the truck was parked on a street corner in the Downtown area. They then moved to a store on King Street in San Jose.

So there.

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Cool, thanks for posting the info Bong.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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  • 5 months later...

Saturday a.m., on the way to the Irvine Farmer's Market, everybody ravenous.

Lee's!

The young workers all share a weird (though not negative) automaton-like disconnect; thanks to preprogrammed register buttons the job gets done.

One sardine with x-x-jalapeno, one char siu, one cured pork. One typically luridly pink strawberry smoothie. Two Lee's cafes, their little propriety taken with cafe filtre. Aaah.

As dinner planning continued apace, in fact renewedly, two baguettes to go were collected after eating. These were quickly complemented by farmer's market fruit & veg. And a nice wedge of Winchester Cheese's super-aged gouda.

God Bless Lee's.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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