"i have been making longer shaped rolls. these are perfect for little sandwiches, especially vietnamese-style banh mi, which use french-style bread. i love the flavours and textures in banh mi–the crusty, airy white bread… this particular one was inspired by one of chef mario batali’s entrees in "iron chef america" mango battle." link.
"Bahn mi thit nuong at a pavement stall in front of 37 Nguyen Trai in
District 1 (about a block past an intersection of at least 3 or 4
streets that appears as a circle on my map). The sandwich lady sets up
around 5:30 p.m., and sells some of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve
ever had. They consist of grilled pork meatballs on a French roll with
barbeque sauce, cilantro, and some other veggies. At 5,000 VD (roughly
33 US cents) each, you can’t go wrong."
There’s more on eGullet.
Reader Larry emails to tell me what he thought of Saigon’s best sandwich,
"We went to the banh mi woman at 37 Nguyen Trai in Saigon. Wow, that is a damned good sandwich. We had to go twice because we showed up too late (~9 PM) the first night. Well, either that or… it might have been on a Sunday. Anyway, we went back the next day and it was worth the 9000+ mile flight just to eat those 5,000 dong sandwiches. We bought three of them. The woman has a helper and apparently a second cart that serves soups. The helper smiled at me when I bought my third sandwich."
I’m sure she did Larry. Three sandwiches. I respect your appetite and glad the sarnie was a resounding hit. If you’re in town, don’t miss it. I do…
I get a lot of mail through this ‘ere blog. Much of it interesting, some of it odd and yet more I can’t help out with, but maybe you can. I spent a lot of time guzzling down Saigon’s top street sarnies. It appears I didn’t spend an equal amount of time considering what goes inside a Vietnamese banh mi pate. Can someone please help frustrated reader Lorna who just wants to get her pate on,
"Have you in your travels run across a recipe for the pate they spread on their banh mi? (I’m afraid I never have) I am trying one this week that I found on Egullet, for a Vietnamese-flavored pate, but am not sure if this is it. I have learned from several Vietnamese markets that sell banh mi that the pate uses both pork and pork liver (that sounds about right to me…), but when they make the sandwich the pate is very spreadable, not like a pate de campagne. (Absolutely. It’s rather pastey, kinda catfoody) Got any info about this? (Zip…)
Also, the mayonnaise-like spread on the bread. (Huh?? Warm margarine or cheap butter, no?) I have heard that it is simply homemade mayonnaise from some purveyors, while others say it is flavored with garlic, like an aioli, and others claim it is flavored with more nuoc mam. (Oooh Yum, that sounds like a yank twist, no?) Any ideas there about the classic combo? (Not here, but hopefully in the comments…)
I have given up on figuring out how to make the rice/wheat flour combo of bread, as the only recipe out there appears to be a flop (made with ingredients here in the states, at least), but the pate and mayo are still somewhat of a mystery to me.
I sense the Vietnam pangs are kicking in. I live in France. I have two Chinese/Vietnamese/Asian supermarkets very near my gaff, but… they just ain’t the same. In fact all those pre-prepared, plastic boxed, cellophane covered ‘authentic’ Vietnamese specialities are a total turn off. And then there’s the dark mornings… my first cold weather experience in about a decade… broadband installation purgatory and the pavement. At this particular moment in time I would wrestle a medium sized mammal, or a large fish with small teeth for one of these.
In London last week I talked to a whole bunch of media/blogging folk, many of whom I was fleshmeeting for the first time – more on that later – the one question at least five of them asked me within five minutes of meeting was,
"Why did you leave?"
I’m starting to ponder the wisdom of the contents of my answer 🙂
Spotted at stall on Dinh Cong Trang street in District 1, Saigon.
In the comments, on what might just be Saigon’s best sandwich stall holder, reader Matt wrote, "I dont think she works on Sunday." Matt, I don’t think she does either. I waded through the hellish 7pm Sunday di choi traffic for a repeat fix and, like you, came up empty and worried. A local xe om driver confirmed she doesn’t do sarnies on the Lord’s day. Shit. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I set out to buy something edible and find it unavailable I get a mite tetchy, determined tetchy, but tetchy all the same. In a situation like this you need local knowledge. The xe om driver thinks he knows another spot. We head north up Cach Mang Thang Tham street.
We find this stall on the right hand side of the mega-long Cach Mang Thang Tham street about 100 metres before the turning into To Hien Thanh street. If you meld this videocast with the first half of this videocast you’ll cover much the same turf. This seller flogs a variety of sandwiches – including traditional pate, grilled minced pork balls and canned sardine sarnies – from her confusingly named hotdog stall, but it’s banh mi xiu mai I want to try tonight. Xui mai is the spicy minced pork balls in tomato sauce you can see warming in the hotpot above. More on xiu mai earlier today.
Topped with cucumber, coriander, hot sauce, freshly chopped strands of red chilli and wrapped inside a page from an old copy of the Vietnam Yellow Pages, it makes for a stunning 7,000VD sandwich. The chilli kicks some serious volts down your gob and you might want to forego these if you’re not into near death experiences. But the xiu mai itself is a soft, sweet, hot, hit. A few more pictures here.
More sarnies please. They’re grrrreat. Will definitely be hunting down more banh mi xiu mai.
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.
Joe DiStefano over at Slashfood rates the banh my served at 5 Ninth in West Village New York City as ‘perfect’ – no shit?
"The bánh mì itself was perfect. The crisp baguette shattered, a perfect foil to the roast pork and creamy sweet mayonnaise. The only downside of 5 Ninth’s sandwich was the price. At $12, it’s not cheap, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay to my end my search for a top-notch Vietnamese sandwich." Slashfood.
$12 is roughly 188,000 dong in old money. If you’re not good with conversion rates, trust me, we’re in big dong territory. While Joe’s picture (see above) looks well tasty, I’ll wager there’s better butties on the streets of this fair town. A Saigon side banh my is about 30 cents or 5,000 dong. Therefore…. 188,000/5,000 = 37.6…. 5 Ninth’s sarnie is almost 40 times more expensive than the Saigon equivalent. Hmmm… I’m just imagining forty Saigon banh my sitting there next to Joe’s one? It’s quite a powerful image.