VIETNAM : BANH MI SANDWICHES // street stall favorites, veggie friendly, french influences

sandwich in se asia

When I scheduled my flight from HK to Cambodia– I was only planning to spend 6 days max: 3 days in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and 3 days in Siem Reap (still in Cambodia but to the West). However, I ended up staying a total of 23 days (inconsecutively).

Cambodia became my home base and I basically made up my itinerary day by day. So the first stop out of Cambodia: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam (Southern Vietnam).

Mission: Eat as much street food as possible without getting food poisoned in Vietnam.

Trip Duration: 4 Days/3 Nights

Local Sidekick: Ken, a Vietnamese Couchsurfer who took me under his wing and showed me HCMC/Saigon by motorbike (yeah, I’m still trying to figure out the difference between HCMC and Saigon– anyone care to elaborate?).

Okay forget that question for now because I need you to focus:

Take a look at the picture below… what do you see?

Well, I’ll tell you what I see- I see loaves of bread, two women in matching outfits, the letters “anh mi” and a street stall looking set up… see all of that??

GREAT. So, the first Vietnamese favorite I’d like to talk about is Banh Mi // Vietnamese Sandwiches, and I’m going to break it down into four categories:

The Bread:

– Vietnamese baguettes were influenced by the French.

– Texture is airy with a thin/crispy crust.

The Filling Options:

– Steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled pork patties, spreadable pork liver pâté, pork floss, grilled chicken, chicken floss, sardines, soft pork meatballs, cheese, fried eggs, and/or tofu

The Veggies:

– Fresh cucumber slices (yum!), cilantro (yummer!) and pickled carrots/radishes (daikon).

The Sauces/Spreads: 

– Spicy chili sauce and mayonnaise.
– Laughing Cow cheese is definitely a crowd favorite (after my first banh mi, I ordered a few sandwiches without meat and asked for the Laughing Cow instead- can you say veggie friendly?)!

How do they taste? Well it depends on what you choose to put inside but I love the flavor of the pickled veggies, the crunch when you bite into the crust and the softness of the bread when you start to chew all of the flavors together.

Where can you find Banh Mi? You can find these sandwiches at street stalls all over Southeast Asia; drive up by motorbike or walk up by foot- they will be ready for you no matter what time of day or night it is (think fat cats/college-munchie-food). Their origin comes from Vietnam, and depending where you are, fillings may vary. And don’t ask me what was in my Banh Mi sandwich… all I can tell you is that Ken ordered it and it was hella good.

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