Where to eat the best banh mi in Ho Chi Minh City
You can’t go more than a few steps in old Saigon without bumping into a banh mi vendor. Here are our tips for finding the best banh mi in the city.
- November 2017
Few foods in the world are more on-trend than banh mi, which has transcended the streets of Vietnam to become a worldwide favourite. If you’re used to paying Western prices for the iconic sandwich, you’ll be overjoyed to see it selling on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City for around AUD $1.50. Even better, you literally can’t go more than a few steps in the city without bumping into a vendor. Here are our tips for finding the best banh mi in old Saigon.
The French connection
Bequeathed with a taste for fresh baguettes by the French during the colonial period, the Vietnamese put their own delectable spin on it, coming up with a selection of fillings ranging from barbecued pork to fried eggs. The main item is complemented by everything from paté to Vietnamese pickles, cucumbers and coriander, topped off by fresh chilli or a touch of chili sauce.
Southern-style banh mi tends to be more ample than its northern equivalent, with bigger baguettes and more fillings. As you sample the city’s sandwiches, you’ll quickly realise that there’s a very good reason for its newfound global ubiquity: it’s delicious, in all its forms.
Banh Mi Huynh Hoa: Saigon’s sandwich superstar
Arguably the most famous banh mi vendor in Ho Chi Minh City, Banh Mi Huynh Hoa is deserving of its acclaim. The scores of motorbikes parked out front attest to its popularity, and long queues, especially at lunchtime, are an inevitability. Nevertheless, the army of red-shirted sandwich makers do a fine job of keeping the tasty baguettes coming. Various fillings are available, with meat free-options available for vegetarians. The star of the show, however, is the banh mi thap cam—a combination of mixed luncheon meats with paté, mayonnaise and veggies.
Location: 26 Le Thi Rieng, District 1
Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai: grilled pork to die for
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 stock in trade is excellent banh mi thit nuong (grilled pork sandwiches). The telltale, 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.
Location: 37 Nguyen Trai, District 1
Banh Mi Hong Hoa: it’s all about the baguette
Ask banh mi aficionados about what makes a great Vietnamese sandwich and many of them will single out the bread. A great baguette should be crispy and crusty on the outside, and moist and fluffy on the inside. Which is exactly the case at Banh Mi Hong Hoa, where the bread is cooked fresh on the premises (the shop does a roaring trade in unfilled baguettes). With the outstanding bread providing a base of gold, the sandwiches offer a perfect balance between rich meat, creamy mayonnaise, crispy vegetables and bright-tasting herbs.
Location: 62 Nguyen Van Trang, District 1
Nhu Lan Bakery: the 24-hour favourite
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 on the premises, while the smoky pork is complemented by a generous slathering of rich paté, plentiful herbs and crunchy vegetables. Open 24 hours, Nhu Lan is also a firm favourite with night owls hunting for a delicious snack to power their trip home.
Location: 64-68 Ham Nghi Street, District 1
Banh Mi Nong Tuan Map: a fiesta of fillings
If variety is the spice of life then this eclectic vendor offers one of the hottest tastes in Ho Chi Minh City. A veritable smorgasbord of ingredients is on show behind the glass counter here, displayed alongside a bundle of beautifully crisp, fluffy baguettes. Options include the classic banh mi thap cam (mixed meat) and banh mi thit nuong (barbecued pork). For something different, opt for marinated pig’s ear with tender, juicy roast duck—a surprising combination that actually works.
Location: 196 Pasteur Street, District 3
Our favourite link: Banh Mi Nong Tuan Map opens in new window