When the French arrived in Vietnam, they brought baguettes with them, which were then reinvented into a unique and famous food by the Vietnamese. Filling recipes, ingredients, and seasonings are the brought together in a way that transforms a baguette into a tasty food for the Vietnamese.
A traditional banh mi is about a hand length and is filled with meats and vegetables from native Vietnamese cuisine such as pork sausage, coriander, cucumber, pickled carrots, and daikon. These ingredients are combined with condiments from French cuisine such as pâté and mayonnaise. Other foods like jalapeños are also incorporated. However, there are a variety of fillings that even persuade the pickiest of eaters who normally stick with chicken or fish lovers to try vegetarian options.
The banh mi is a good example of the harmony of Yin and Yang. These are the crunchiness of bread and the saltiness of the fillings, which represent for the masculine qualities of Yang. The greenness and the freshness of vegetables show the feminine qualities of Yin. Besides, spiciness, saltiness, sweetness and sourness and the different colours of fillings (yellow, brown, green, orange to white) represent the elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. The harmonization of banh mi, therefore, suits the taste of people in different nations all over the world.
You are in hurry. You have a small amount of money. But, you want to fill your stomach with a yummy dish. Banh mi is definitely perfect for you! It’s cheap yet tasty which is the reason why the food became the most popular street food in Vietnam. It’s often the top choice of Vietnamese students and workers who have to start their day very early in the morning. In addition, tourists visting Vietnam also fall in love with this food. It’s very easy to grab a banh mi wherever you are in Vietnam but you should not miss out banh mi in Saigon, since this place is considered to be the origin of this sandwhich. The following are the top 4 best places to have a loaf of banh mi.
1. Banh Mi Huynh Hoa
Located right in the heart of the city on Le Thi Rieng Street, this place is always full of people, especially during rush hours and guests have to stand in a long queue to own a tasty banh mi.
Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng Street, District 1
Open hours: 3:30 pm – midnight, daily
Price: 30,000 VND ($1.40) – this is a little bit more expensive than average but worth eating.
2. Banh mi Như Lan
A Saigon institution since the pre-war era, Nhu Lan is a one-stop shop for all sorts of delicious Vietnamese dishes and food items. It is, however, best known for its sandwiches— the best of which is its banh mi thit nuong (barbecued pork). The bread is cooked fresh in house, while the smoky pork is complemented by a generous slathering of rich paté, plentiful herbs, and crunchy vegetables. Open 24 hours a day, Nhu Lan is also a firm favorite with night owls hunting for a delicious snack to power their trip home.
Address: 64-68 Ham Nghi Street, District 1
Open hours: 24/24.
Price: 22,000 VND ($1)
3. Banh mi Nguyen Trai
While some vendors offer the full range of fillings, others prefer to do one thing, and do it well. At Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai, a small cart parked just inside an alleyway, the offering is an excellent banh mi thit nuong (grilled pork sandwiches). The mouth-watering aroma of the charcoal-grilled miniature pork patties is the first thing you’ll notice when you visit the stall. And the taste lives up to the smell. The patties are seasoned with garlic and salt, with a teriyaki-like glaze providing lip-smacking sweetness.
Address: 37 Nguyễn Trãi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (but it’s right at Hem 39)
Open hours: Usually from around 5 pm – 7:30 pm or so daily.
Price: 16,000 VND ($0.75)
4. Banh mi Hoa Ma
This vendor is known as the first vendor selling “banh mi kep thit”-.banh mi with meat fillings. Although the kitchen and front part of the restaurant was located along the busy Cao Thang road in District 3, the tables and chairs were set up along a smaller perpendicular side street. There, the atmosphere is a little calmer and more relaxing, yet always still exciting.
Address: 51 Cao Thang Street, District 3
Open hours: 7am - 10 am.
5. Banh Mi Hong Hoa
Banh Mi Hong Hoa is a classic sandwich option, which is sold in the banh mi shophouse in Saigon. The morning hours are when the restaurant is the busiest, with motorbikes rolling in for drive-though takeaway.
Address: 62 Nguyen Van Trang
Open hours: 7am - 10am
Price: 17,000 VND ($0.80)