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Eight Saigon banh mi variations worth the savor post-social distancing

Created 08 August 2021
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With HCMC in the grips of a strict two-month social distancing order, many Saigoneers are craving for a delectable bite of banh mi.

Banh mi served with pork meatball topped with salted egg yolk has been highly recommended by travel bloggers as it comes from a vendor’s homemade recipe that you can’t find anywhere else. Inside the freshly baked sandwich has one piece of roasted beef, two to three pieces of pork meatball topped with protein-laden steamed salted egg yolk, and layers of pork crackling. Dont forget to put a little pickled daikon and carrots and fish sauce into the loà of banh mi to add its flavors. The stall is located at 6 Ho Xuan Huong Street in Binh Thanh District, with prices ranging from VND22,000-30,000 ($0.95-1.29).

The simple Vietnamese sandwich, a baguette stuffed with anything from grilled pork, cold cuts and cucumber slices to cilantro, pickled carrots, liver pate, and a swipe of mayonnaise, is arguably one of the first things you should try if you want a true taste of Vietnam.

Here are eight famous banh mi variations that have won acclaim from food bloggers.

Banh mi served with pork meatball topped with salted egg yolk has been highly recommended by travel bloggers as it comes from a vendor’s homemade recipe that you can’t find anywhere else. Inside the freshly baked sandwich has one piece of roasted beef, two to three pieces of pork meatball topped with protein-laden steamed salted egg yolk, and layers of pork crackling. Dont forget to put a little pickled daikon and carrots and fish sauce into the loà of banh mi to add its flavors. The stall is located at 6 Ho Xuan Huong Street in Binh Thanh District, with prices ranging from VND22,000-30,000 ($0.95-1.29).

Banh mi xiu mai trung muoi served with pork meatballs (xiu mai) and topped with salted egg yolk (trung muoi) is highly recommended by travel bloggers, stemming from a homemade recipe you can’t find anywhere else. Inside the freshly baked sandwich is one piece of roasted beef, two to three pieces of pork meatballs topped with protein-laden steamed salted egg yolk, along with layers of pork crackling. Don't forget to put a little pickled daikon and carrots and fish sauce into the loaf to add flavor.
The stall serving this version is at 6 Ho Xuan Huong Street in Binh Thanh District, with prices ranging from VND22,000-30,000 ($0.95-1.29).

Bread is served in a frying pan with egg, pate and sausage. But this is just the basic version. A wide variety of fillings are available for hungry diners to choose from. This dish is usually served right after it is cooked. Typically, a mixture of chilli sauce and soy sauce are added to the dish before it is eaten. The egg yolk combined with seasoning makes for a greasy, tasty sauce that a piece of crispy bread is dipped into.One of the most ideal places to try it is Hoa Ma stall on Dang Tran Con Street in District 1.The shop is open from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Each serving costs around VND44,000.

Banh mi chao is one served with a frying pan (chao) with egg, pate and sausage. But this is just the basic version. A wide variety of "fillings" are available for hungry diners to choose from. The dish is usually served right after it is cooked. Typically, a mixture of chili and soy sauce are added to the dish before it is eaten. The egg yolk combined with seasoning makes for a greasy, tasty sauce that a piece of crispy bread is dipped into.
One of the most ideal places to try it is the Hoa Ma stall on Dang Tran Con Street, District 1.
The joint is open from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Each serving costs around VND44,000.

In the alley at 37 Nguyen Trai Street in District 5, also known as the Chinatown area, a lady has been serving banh mi with grilled pork from a pushcart for more than a decade. The round pieces of pork, fragrant and slightly burnt, are taken directly from hot coal in a small oven. Regular customers say they love how the grilled pork there has remained tasty for so many years, and people are willing to wait for half an hour to be served.The sandwich includes five or six pork patties and coated in a sauce that smells and tastes nearly like yakitori sauce. On top of the pork patties is a generous amount of cucumber, cilantro, green onion, Vietnamese pickles, and finally some sweet chili sauce.  The stall opens at around 5 p.m, and the sandwich costs VND20,000 ($0.86).

At 37 Nguyen Trai Street in District 5, part of Saigon's Chinatown, a vendor has been serving banh mi thit nuong with grilled pork (thit nuong) from a pushcart for more than a decade.
The round pieces of minced pork, fragrant and slightly burnt, are taken directly from the hot coals in a small oven. Regular customers say they love how the grilled pork here has remained tasty for so many years, with people willing to wait half an hour to be served.
The sandwich includes five or six pork patties coated in a sauce that smells and tastes nearly like yakitori. On top of the pork patties is a generous amount of cucumber, cilantro, green onion, Vietnamese pickles, and finally some sweet chili sauce. The stall opens at around 5 p.m., and the sandwich costs VND20,000 ($0.86).

A loaf of banh mi accompanied with a stew made of beef and pork entrails called pha lau (Offal stew) is not a bad idea for Saigonese as the dish originated from China and was imported to Saigon 100 years ago and chefs add local taste to suit Vietnamese foodies. Diners can drop Ms.Oanhs tall inside Xom Chieu Market in District 4, recommended by food bloggers.  The main ingredient of the pha lau in this eatery is beef offal – liver, stomach and tripe. On collecting an order, the owner starts to cut the offal into bite-sized chunks. Then she puts them in a bowl then adds fragrant, dense broth rendered richer with coconut milk. The long-shimmered beef offal is tender, juicy and crunchy. Adding to the enjoyment of the dish is the sweet and sour taste of fish sauce with some kumquat juice. Eaters can tell the owner if they want their sauce spicy or not.The shop at 200/48 Xom Chieu, District 4 has been in operation for 20 years and opens from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The average price for one serving is VND25,000 ($1.08).

Banh mi pha lau accompanied with a stew made of beef and pork entrails called pha lau (offal stew) is not a bad idea for Saigoneers, originating from China and imported to Saigon 100 years ago.
Diners can drop by Ms. Oanh's stall inside Xom Chieu Market of District 4, as recommended by food bloggers.
The main ingredient of pha lau is beef offal – liver, stomach and tripe. On collecting an order, the owner starts to cut the offal into bite-sized chunks. She then puts them in a bowl, adding a fragrant, dense broth rendered richer with coconut milk. The long-shimmered beef offal is tender, juicy and crunchy.
Adding to the enjoyment is the sweet and sour taste of fish sauce with some kumquat juice. Eaters can tell the owner if they want their sauce spicy or not.
The shop at 200/48 Xom Chieu, District 4 has been in operation for 20 years and opens from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The average price per serving is VND25,000 ($1.08).

It is not difficult to find a stall serving banh mi with fried chopped fish ball that has become a popular breakfast dish. Banh mí is filled with grilled fish cakes and toppings such as scallions, coriander, soy sauce, sliced chili peppers, or pickled daikon and carrots.A loaf of banh mi costs from VND10,000-15,000 can be found at any streets or small alleys in HCMC.These famous stalls serving it include Ma Hais stall at 187 Vinh Vien Street in District 10, or 100 De Tham Street in District 1.

It is not difficult to find stalls serving banh mi cha ca with fried chopped fish cakes (cha ca), a popular breakfast dish. The bread is filled with grilled fish cakes and toppings like scallions, coriander, soy sauce, sliced chili peppers, or pickled daikon and carrots.
A loaf of fish cakes bread costing from VND10,000-15,000 can be found on any street or in small alleys across Ho Chi Minh City.
Famous stalls include Ma Hai's at 187 Vinh Vien Street in District 10, or the one at 100 De Tham Street in District 1.

Banh mi served with beef jerky inside Da Kao Market in District 1 is not to be missed. Beef jerky is cut into smaller pieces and served on a loaf of banh mi along with laksa leaves, roasted peanut and spicy chili sauce. In some stalls, the owner makes dipping sauce with sour and sweet taste as a bonus for the loaf of banh mi that costs VND20,000-25,000 each.

Banh mi kho bo served with beef jerky (kho bo) inside Da Kao Market in District 1 is not to be missed. Beef jerky is cut into smaller pieces and served in a loaf of bread along with laksa leaves, roasted peanut and spicy chili sauce. In some stalls, the owner makes a sour and sweet sauce as a bonus. Each typically costs VND20,000-25,000.

For many Saigonese, a bread served with roasted pork belly is not too strange. The pork is roasted with a thick layer of salt and spices. It is sliced and served on a freshly baked banh mi roll. The sandwich is then dressed with a combination of mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, and chives. If desired, sliced chili peppers can be added to the sandwich as a topping, making it very spicy.Where to eat: Phuc Hais stall at 3 Nguyen Thuong Hien Street in District 3 or another stall at 95 Tran Dinh Xu Street in District 1.

For many Saigoneers, bread served with roasted pork, banh mi heo quay, is not too strange. The pork is roasted with a thick layer of salt and spices. It is sliced and served on a freshly baked bread roll. The sandwich is then dressed with a combination of mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, and chives. If desired, sliced chili peppers can be added as a topping, making it very spicy.
This version can be found at Phuc Hai's stall at 3 Nguyen Thuong Hien Street in District 3 or another stall at 95 Tran Dinh Xu Street in District 1.

Normally, the owner will choose fresh scad fishes from seafood markets, then clean and stew for many hours with coconut water and tomatoes based on their own recipes. Cooked fishes are kept on a charcoal pot to keep it warm and not fishy. When a customer places an order, the fishes are mashed into a loaf of banh mi that has been smeared with mayonnaise, and the sandwich is then topped with classic accompaniments such as pickled carrots and daikon, coriander, sliced chili peppers, and a drizzle of spicy tomato sauce inside the pot or fish sauce. .If you want to try this dish, dont forget to drop by a stall at 224 Bui Dinh Tuy Street in Binh Thanh District for VND20,000-25,000 per serving.

Banh mi ca nuc is one served with fresh scad (ca nuc) from seafood markets. The fish would be stewed for many hours with coconut water and tomatoes based on varying recipes. Cooked fish are kept in a charcoal pot to keep it warm and reduce the fishy flavor. When a customer places an order, the fish is mashed into a loaf of bread smeared with mayonnaise, then topped with classic accompaniments like pickled carrots and daikon, coriander, sliced chili peppers, and a drizzle of spicy tomato sauce.
If you want to try this, drop by 224 Bui Dinh Tuy Street in Binh Thanh District for a VND20,000-25,000 serving.

Photos by Lan Huong, Di Vy, Tam Linh

 Source: VNE

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