It should be to no shock to anyone by now that a majority of my travel plans center around food. Tasting the local culture in all its various forms whether be it in a restaurant, market or on the street, is one of my greatest joys in travelling and in life.
Vietnam is filled with delicious treats from spring rolls to jackfruit to my beloved pho bo soup. All of which, I ate plenty of. The country is also home to the bánh mì, a tasty sandwich showcasing both Vietnam’s French influenced past and local flavors at the same time. An airy, crispy, single serving baguette is stuffed with a variety of fillings more often than not including grilled meat, pâté, fresh cucumber, cilantro, pickled veggies, mayo, chili and sometimes cheese. The smorgasbord of ingredients is a flavor explosion for your mouth and a hearty pick-me-up any time of day.
Bánh mì are ubiquitous in Vietnam and especially in Ho Chi Minh City. The sandwich is a popular meal throughout the day, eaten by local looking for something quick and filling to eat on the go. Finding a bánh mì stand is not a difficult task. However, finding an outstanding one is. On this past trip, I made finding the best bánh mì in Ho Chi Minh City my goal, a mission that I think we completed.
In and around the Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh’s largest, hundreds of vendors set up shop, and hundreds more ready to feed them. The little hawker stands range from semi kitchens to one woman, one pot shows. Most of them will serve you a bánh mì. While strolling through, trying to find the best place to order our sandwich, my friends and I noticed multiple old locals munching on what looked to be the same awesome version. After a few miscommunications and a little misunderstanding, we were guided to a lady outside the market on the street, with nothing but a simple cart and serving nothing but bánh mì.
The woman who made the sandwiches spoke no English, and we no Vietnamese, but it didn’t matter, she knew what we had come for. Within seconds was whipping us up one of her (what I’m sure are) famed treats, one with the meat, pâté, and everything in between. The sandwich was sweet, salty, sour and spicy, all flavors in balance and absolutely devine. Having devoured ours in a mere minute, we quickly returned for seconds, the lady giving us nothing but a knowing look before heading to work on bánh mì number two.
My only regret: not getting bánh mì number three.
Want to get one for yourself? Here’s your map to bánh mì goodness. Enjoy, I sure did :)