Do not tell people that you’ve been to Vietnam if you did not have, at least one, banh mi! “Bánh mì” means bread in Vietnamese, but people used it to refer the banh mi sandwich, which the fillings varies from places to places. The baguettes are normally 3/4 foot long. They’re sliced from the side, filled with assorted meats, such as luncheon meats or grilled pork patties, pâté, and finished with Vietnamese pickles, cucumbers, coriander, and choice of chili sauce or chili. Now the question, where to get banh mi in Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh city)?
Bánh Mì Hòa Mã
53 Cao Thắng, Phường 3, phường 17, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Where’s the sandwich? Since “banh mi” means bread, this type of breakfast is called the banh mi op la (perhaps it came from the French “oeufs au plat”) , which is the set of Vietnamese baguette served with sunny side up eggs, often fried, fish cakes, and caramelized onions on a sizzling hot plate.
The set includes a Vietnamese baguette, a plate of “fillings”, pickles, and pâté. There’s no “correct” way of eating it, just dig in and enjoy however you want! The baguette is very crunch and crisp outside, and fluffy inside, which can easily soaked up the yolk when you dip it. The pickles that were served on the side balanced the richness of the eggs and greasy meat.
Besides the op la, they also have the typical banh mi that we see. Instead of cooked meats, it’s filled with a layer of pâté, raw fish cakes and assorted hams. The pickled daikons and fresh herbs are served on the side. This is lighter, and perfect if you are on-the-go.
Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng
37 Nguyễn Trãi, Bến Thành, Quận 1 Bến Thành Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh city, Vietnam
Instead of serving assorted luncheon meats, they serve freshly off-the-grill pork patties! The food cart is tucked inside a small alley, but you’ll notice it by the long queue.
The sandwich included around 3 to 4 pork patties, which are coated in a sauce that smelled and tasted like the Japanese sweet-soy (yakitori) sauce. The sandwich is also topped with a generous amount of cucumber chunks, cilantro, green onions, Vietnamese pickles, and some sweet chili sauce. The pork was tender, and the vegetables were crunchy. I would highly recommend this! Unlike most of the banh mi that are cold, this was warm and comforting after a long day.
Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa
26 Lê Thị Riêng, Bến Thành, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
When you ask what’s the best banh mi in Saigon, “Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa” will probably be the answer. It is the most well known banh mi in Saigon among locals and foreigners. Why? Simply cause it was remarkably delicious, and remarkably meaty and rich.
It’s packed with layers and layers of meat, and a thick layer of the pâté and mayonnaise, which made it extra creamy. I think the pâté definitely play a key role in any of the banh mi, because it adds more flavor to the luncheon meats.
As usual, it’s filled with lots of mixed greens and pickles. Instead of chili sauce, they put fresh chili slices, which could give a kick of spiciness in any of your bites!
Overall, do not expect to get the same banh mi in Vietnam, because they are all different! I’m still craving for it, and don’t think I’ll be sick of it any times soon. These 3 food stalls were my favorites out of the ones that I’ve tried, but I wouldn’t say these are “the best” or “top 3” , because there are probably hundreds of banh mi in the city, and I haven’t had all for comparison yet. Banh mi stalls are everywhere in the city, within few steps, you’ll see one at each block, and I’m sure many are delicious. If you think that there’s another banh mi that I should try next time, comment below! 🙂