Banh Mi gains so much popularity inside and outside of Vietnam lately. It’s been always a favorite for local and expats in Vietnam, for breakfast, lunch and dinner alike. Recently, thanks to the availability of shops with English menus, this fusion food is taking Hanoi by storm.
Banh Mi was a peculiar thing. It is a half-French, half-Vietnamese type of food. A lovechild of the two very rich culinary cultures, just like the Vietnamese coffee.When the French came over, they brought the baguette, among a wide array of bread, pastry and baked goods.
The Vietnamese took the baguette and added their own flavors: some charsiu meat braised in a wonderful caramelized sauce, some pickled vegetables to add crunch and freshness, and a unique hot sauce.
The Banh Mi then was born, carrying an amazing savory texture.
Enough with my raving though, you just have to try to experience it out for yourself:)
The thing with Banh Mi is that they are often sold on the side of the street at less than $1 each. Quite a deal for such a filling and well-balanced meal. The catch is that there is no menu, and virtually much less English spoken. A Vietnamese native doesn’t need a menu to order. The shop often sells one thing and one thing only, they only need to tell them if they don’t want paté, or chilly sauce, or anything on their sandwich. Otherwise, they get the whole package.
Another drawback is that the sandwich often comes with pork as the only protein. Few shops also offer omelet sandwich (banh my trung) and it tastes wonderful too. Most shops don’t, however, so if you’re a vegetarian, or if you don’t eat pork, the risk is high.
Recently, however, banh my has become more accessible to foreign visitors. Shops are set up around the city central, with an English menu and pictures so you can point and order. They also often have a seating area so you can take cover and enjoy your lunch properly.
We went to a Banh my shop like that a while back. I think the taste comes quite close to what we often get on the street. The price is still cheap, plus you get so many choices. Aside from the traditional charsiu pork, you can now get chicken or beef. I think there was also a vegetarian option but can’t recall for sure.
So if you are in Hanoi, just keep an eye out and try the banh my. If you don’t care much about the option and don’t mind ordering using body languages, just order from any Banh My shop. There is most likely no seating area, but you can take it back to the hotel or in the park. Keep an eye out for ones that have local customers come and go constantly.
If you are in central Hanoi, you may also run into an outlet of the many banh my franchises here. This is the one that we went to:
Banh My P
Address: 12 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi (Google Map)
English Menu: Yes
Price: VND 15,000 to 35,000 per sandwich