“That’s a symphony in a sandwich” is how Anthony Bourdain described the most famous Vietnamese sandwich called the Bánh Mì.
If you’re planning on traveling to Vietnam, the one sandwich you will hear about and will not want to miss is the Bánh Mì. This iconic sandwich has been consistently ranked as one of the best sandwiches in the world.
On our quest for authentic food in Vietnam, we absolutely fell in love with the bánh mì sandwich. Beyond the delicious flavors, we liked this sandwich for two different reasons.
For Claire, the bread or baguette would immediately transport her back to France, where she has many fond memories of the simple pleasures of a baguette sandwich.
On my end, I’m personally not a huge sandwich fan. I much prefer a meal, any day, over a sandwich. However, something happened in Vietnam. I finally discovered how good a sandwich really could be.
Along the quest for authentic food in Vietnam, we made it a point to try the bánh mì sandwich in different parts of the country.
Join us on a journey through Vietnam as we discover what makes the bánh mì the best Vietnamese sandwich to fall in love with.
What Makes for the Best Bánh Mì Sandwich?
The bánh mì is an airy and crunchy French-style baguette, stuffed with an every varying combination of meats, vegetables, and sauces.
The bánh mì sandwich gets its origin from the French influence on Indochina. The baguette was introduced by the French, but appropriated by the Vietnamese in the 1950s when they started calling it the bánh mì or wheat bread. The sandwich gained popularity around the world after the Vietnam War.
Generally speaking, it is an airy Vietnamese baguette made with a combination of wheat and rice flours with a thin crispy crust.
It is stuffed with pork, pâté, cured ham, a mélange of Vietnamese herbs and vegetables like coriander, cucumber, carrot, slices, radish and more depending on what part of the country you are in. You can read more about the different fillings and recipes that go into the bánh mì sandwich here.
Hoi An, Vietnam: The Best Vietnamese Bánh Mì
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An in central Vietnam is an atmospheric old town with Chinese and Japanese influenced architecture. You will find famous Chinese temples, Japanese bridge, pagodas, ancient shop houses and old canals.
In addition to being a World Heritage site, it is also known for its local food specialties.
Best Bánh Mì Sandwich: At The Queen of Bánh Mì
We arrived in Hoi An, tired and hungry. When we asked our local host the closest place to get a good Bánh Mì, she sent us to Madam Khanh, the Bánh Mì Queen which was down the street.
At this point, we had no idea we were about to eat the best bánh mì ever. We had been told Hoi An had some of the best bánh mì sandwiches in Vietnam, and we were eager to find out for ourselves.
When we got to the stand, there was only one item on the menu – Bánh Mì. You can choose from different types of filling, and we chose to go with “everything.” We were ushered into the very simple back room back, sat down at a table for four and waited patiently.
After a few minutes, the most beautiful sandwich arrived. Even before our server would let us eat, she held onto the plate saying “photo”, “photo.”
You could tell that she had been trained to make sure only the best and most flattering pictures of the sandwich are taken. She hung around the table for the a few minutes watching us take photos, and only left after we showed us the pictures we had taken.
Topped with an egg and the bread slightly toasted, this sandwich is divine. In each bite, there is a wealth of textures and flavors. The spicy, salty, savory, sweet, and aromatic flavors are so delicious and they keep you savoring for more. Definitively, our preferred bánh mì sandwich in Vietnam.
Address: 115 Trần Cao Vân, Sơn Phong, Tp. Hội An
Hours: Everyday from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm
Prices: About 20,000 VND per person, with everything, (approximately $0.87 USD)
Must Try Bánh Mì Sandwich: Bánh Mì Phượng, Hoi An
The other popular place for bánh mì that cannot be missed is Bánh Mì Phượng. This is the place that TV host and personality, Anthony Bourdain visited when he described the bánh mì “as a symphony in a sandwich.”
We are always cautious about the quality of food at local places that receive celebrity endorsement. Our biggest concern is whether the place will maintain its authenticity.
We made our way over to Bánh Mì Phượng without any expectations. Not surprisingly, we were met by a long line of tourists waiting in place, while others snapping photos in front of the endorsement by Anthony Bourdain.
After waiting patiently in line, we made it up to the busy counter where several ladies were working frantically, preparing sandwiches for “to-go” orders and for the restaurant as well.
To have an equal comparison to the Queen of bánh mì, we ordered two kinds. One bánh mì with everything, including a fried egg which is the bánh mì thịt bò với trứng or #12 and #9 with ham and pate, plus the addition of an egg.
The pace was rushed and the ambiance harried. After waiting patiently for our order, we sat at a corner table to savor this delicious Vietnamese sandwich.
Plump, stuffed and overflowing with goodness is how the sandwiches arrived. We bit into them with eager anticipation. The first thing we noticed right away was the delicious bread. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
The sandwich was very fresh and filled with unique flavors and delicious herbs. The only minus or negative was the fatty pork. While tasty, we also found one of the sauces used to be on the sweeter side.
All things considered, this Vietnamese sandwich is an experience to be had in Hoi An. The best part is the bread which is baked fresh daily at the bakery next to the restaurant.
Address: 2B Phan Châu Trinh, Minh An, Tp. Hội An
Hours: Everyday from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Prices: About 20,000 VND – 25,000 VND per person, (approximately $0.87 USD – $1.10 USD)
Ho Chi Minh City: Best Vietnamese Bánh Mì
After seriously falling in love with bánh mì sandwiches in Hoi An, we were eager to discover the sandwiches in the south. Just as we had noticed the taste of the famous beef noodle soup, pho in Vietnam evolve, we were curious to taste the differences in the bánh mì sandwiches.
When we travel, our preference is always to stay with the locals. In a recent article we wrote about the 5 reasons you want to stay with locals on your travels, we talked about getting the scoop from the locals.
When it comes to getting the best food tips, locals know best. For this reason, we turned to our local Airbnb hosts to guide us to the best bánh mì in Saigon. With their suggestions in hand, combined with recommendations we found online, here are the places we had a chance to discover.
Bánh Mì Huynh Hoa: Traditional Vietnamese Bánh Mì
With a reputation of making the best bánh mì in Ho Chi Minh City, Huynh Hoa restaurant has quite a following. We got to the restaurant right before it opened at 2:30 pm and no sooner had the doors opened, a crowd suddenly appeared.
Run like a well-oiled machine, everything and everyone had their place.
On one side of the room was a cart filled with the different types of ingredients, meats and pate.
Next to that cart was a smaller cart, with ingredients managed by a gruff old man in a military fashion. He spoke just enough English to tell me very sternly “stand here and wait.” Across the room were baguettes toasting to crispy perfection.
The restaurant does not have any seating area, so after waiting in line, we went outside to look for some shelter from the rain, and devour the best bánh mì sandwiches in Ho Chi Minh City.
The sandwich was heavy in weight and filled with several layers of meat. One of the reasons it is so popular is because it is filled with 8 or 9 different types of meats.
Layered in with the meat were a few slices of cucumber, peppers, onion, cilantro and a few shreds of carrots. The sandwich also had home made mayonnaise and topped with chili sauce.
While we found the sandwich very fresh, we found it way too heavy on the meat. More like a meat sandwich and missing the balance of the fresh veggies and herbs that accompanied the bánh mì sandwiches we enjoyed in Hoi An.
Be that as it may, for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City, indulging in what is considered by many as the best bánh mì or Vietnamese sandwich, is an experience not to be missed.
Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City
Hours: Everyday from 2:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Prices: About 33,000 VND per sandwich (approximately $1.44 USD)
Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa: Solid Vietnamese Sandwich Option
Cambodia was our next stop after Ho Chi Minh City. To get to Phnom Penh, the capital, we chose to take the 6-hour direct bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
But before leaving, we had to get our last taste of bánh mì. Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa, was not far from where we were staying and we got there before noon to pick up sandwiches to go.
The restaurant is a typical shophouse with a with a walk-up counter on the exterior where you can choose from several types of bánh mì sandwiches. The place was already busy with motorcycles constantly stopping by to place orders.
We ordered the classic Vietnamese sandwich with pork (Bánh Mì Thịt) and one with an additional egg added.
These were our favorite bánh mì sandwiches in Ho Chi Minh City.
The balance between the meat and fresh vegetables and herbs was closer to what we enjoyed in the north. The bread was incredibly fresh and tasty. Furthermore, the sandwich held up surprisingly well in the to-go packaging and was not “mushy” when we ate it about 2 hours later.
This is definitively a place not to miss in Saigon for the best bánh mì.
Address: 62 Nguyen Van Trang, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City
Hours: Everyday from 8:00 am – 4:00pm (hours vary)
Prices: About 12,000 VND to 18,000 VND per sandwich (approximately $0.50 to $0.80 USD)
More Places To Savor Bánh Mì Sandwiches in Saigon
With so much delicious food to eat and so little time, we did not have the chance to personally eat at all the bánh mì addresses that were shared with us.
If you are in Saigon and on the hunt for the best bánh mì, here are some additional places to explore in Saigon.
Bánh My 37
Address: 37 Nguyễn Trãi, Bến Thành, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City
Hours: Everyday from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Bánh Mì Nhu Lan
Address: 66 Hàm Nghi, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City
Hours: Everyday from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm
The bánh mì sandwich is beloved in Vietnam. It is a quintessential French inspired Vietnamese street food that is delicious, filling and cheap.
In every part of Vietnam, you will find vendors and local restaurants selling their own unique interpretation of the sandwich. One trendy version in the north, is the kebab bánh mì sandwich.
In whichever city you may be visiting in Vietnam, walk around and explore the local area. through the food. And when you see a bánh mì shop or vendor, stop and order their own unique specialty.
Within no time, you will discover for yourself why the Vietnamese sandwich is the best bánh mì to fall in love with.
Have you ever had a bánh mì the famous Vietnamese sandwich before? Let us know in the comments below, where you had it and what you thought of it.
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