I’ve ummed and arrggghhhhed about this award. 2006 was going to be HP Sauce year, Irn Bru or my favourite Scottish fish n chip shop. Toss as I might, I couldn’t quite settle on a single winner. Being the decisive so and so I am, I decided to stick the award somewhere nearer home instead. The 2006 TasteEverything award goes to The Best Sandwich in Saigon and the stallholder at 37 Nguyen Trai street in District 1, Saigon, Vietnam. She serves weekdays only, from 5pm until the stall runs dry. I’ve tried many a sarnie in this mad megalopolis, but this particular specimen is undeniably the bread’s bollocks. Enjoy. I did. Burp.
I received this in the comments some two months ago. "Another sarnie tip-off. A woman sets up (after 5:30pm) a "banh mi thit nuong" stand. The thit nuong are like little grilled sausages. Plus, she throws on some bbq sauce. Best sandwiches I’ve had in Saigon. A real gem of a find." Upon reading the suggestion I grabbed a camera, snatched the nearest notebook, powered out of fortress pie, hailed a passing chariot and headed out in search of this "gem". A mere 64 days later I alight at this pavement stall at 37 Nguyen Trai street in District 1. I’m hungry, but zen. I’ve arrived. I grab the plushest, fur lined, plastic stool I can find and order.
And here it is. Banh mi thit nuong translates vaguely as a meatball sub (kinda). It’s 5,000VD. I’m a sucker for an electricity bill wrapped sarnie. Is it a internationally common cultural thing? Between the ages of 8 and 16 I was raised by bedouin tribes people who insisted on a strict intake of roughly 10% Fish n chips from the Hillmorton Fish Saloon on Featherbed Lane, Rugby in the UK. Used to have to queue down the street to get in there at dinner time. Fish n chips, like banh mi, come wrapped in paper. Normally newspaper; The Sun, The Mirror, maybe the local rag. Never The Telegraph, Times or Guardian. Why? It’s an interesting intercultural phenomenon – this paper wrap business – what paper is used, where, is the crossword already completed? or soaked in vinegar?
One banh mi thit nuong takes less than a minute to assemble in the construction bay. Inside the baguette it’s warm, snug and saucy. It’s filled with wee charcoal grilled pork patties, pickled carrots, radish, fresh slices of cucumber, some chopped spring onion, fresh coriander and a dash of hot sauce. I’ve yet to install the sniffablog plug in on this blog, but when I do, you’ll receive beams of steamy hot sweet, meat soaked vapours direct to your desktop. It’s seductively warm, a harlot of a hoagie. It has a confident aroma. The smell of a successful sarnie.
I hope the satellite imagery above will help you navigate the terrain. Shame you can’t do a Google Earth and zoom in, crashland in amongst that arty sprawl of scoff, just wallow in it for a bit… Oh well. Technology – marvellous innit – has it’s limits though. And so for now, you’re just going to have take my word for it. This is the best sandwich I have ever had in Saigon. Thank you NoStar Where. I may be slow. But you were not wrong. More snaps.