(Bánh Mì Hà Nội emerges from a shadowy alley:)
C’mere kid, I’ve got something for you.
You like crispy, fresh-baked baguette? …Yeahhhh you do.
This is the most delicious, craveable piece of food art in my neighborhood, and a dangerous distraction after a long day at work – it’s all I can do to stick to only ordering one most days.
Feast your eyes on this specimen…
|Formatting this post has been difficult because every time I see this pic, I go out for ‘lunch.’|
Of course, this glorious, near-perfect sandwich is not the only thing you can buy here. They bake all their breads in-house (extra-important, as baguettes are quickly going stale once you take them out of the oven), and put together a series of mean and tasty sandwiches. From Chicken Pate to that Glorious Pork BBQ, they excel at making a fresh, portable meal that can make you feel like you could just camp in their main grocery store and stay fat and sassy forever.
|They do not actually sell a Pizza Burger.|
Fresh baguettes are a dollar and could single-handedly deliver you to your maker – your salty, sweet, crispy, chewy maker. Fruit juice, milk, water, cheese, and such make up the cooler section, and prices are comparable to Co-op or Maximart, the big chain grocery stores. They serve homemade yogurt, banh bao, various rice and side dishes, and fresh sliced meats, including all cuts of pork, entire chickens, duck, and whatever else they have on hand on any particular day.
|Derivative of Western Dishes. Delicious.|
Sandwich counters are divided into traditional banh mi and ‘derivative’ offerings. Sandwiches with a foreign influence, which are big sellers here, include the aforementioned pork glory bomb, hot dogs (homemade and pretty good), a burger (with or without egg, always with chili sauce and a ton of veggies, but a mildly disappointing patty), and more, all on fresh, homemade buns (uniformly awesome). I haven’t tried the pizza yet, but I feel that might be stretching the limits of what’s appropriate to buy for myself from a street vendor. Or not. You know I’ll try it eventually.
Apparently I can also get a kilo of just the pork (displayed up top rotating on a skewer next to an open oven, like a thing of gyro meat), which I might do someday just to experiment and play with it in my kitchen for a week. That would be so decadent… and I’m unsettling enough to do it. [Another Sidenote: Now that my oven is fixed, I’m hoping to start making homemade pizza again! Banh Mi Pizza could be interesting. What a relief that we no longer have to depend on pan-frying everything.]
|A cold traditional pie. I didn’t care for it, even with cashews.
It suffers from What Is This Jelly?-Syndrome – a RAMPANT
problem I have with Vietnamese snacks.
Also featured are a variety of homemade specialty breads, pastries, and confections of all kinds. They aren’t always very good (this wedge of… something… was particularly memorable. For the wrong reasons, those being jellied pork something + cashews together… for the first time?) but you can count on at least most of them being both fairly traditional, and seasonally appropriate – Autumn Festival brings out specialty cakes, and Tet delivers Banh Tet in spades.
Prices are eminently reasonable. For a single sandwich, prices vary from 20k-40k on average. This puts it about 50-100% more expensive than a run-of-the-mill banh mi from any other street vendor (usually about 15-20k), and the quality of the sandwich ingredients, as well as their tendency to stuff ‘em to maximum capacity, make it a great meal option.
This isn’t the only glorious sandwich in Saigon, of course, but it’s certainly the best within 2 minutes of my front door.
What’s your favorite Vietnamese sandwich? Do you pate or not pate (no pate for me, thanks The Gout)?