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Is the World's Best Banh Mi Found in Hanoi?

Vice’s food-focused arm, Munchies, recently profiled banh mi in Hanoi and presented a set of sandwiches that made us tremble with jealousy. While we’re neither accredited banh mi connoisseurs nor frequent visitors to the capital, it sure looks like Hanoi has us beat when it comes to the country’s best banh mi.

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“Despite their simplicity, Hanoi banh mi are far from boring. Alongside classics like fried egg and grilled pork, vendors are creating new mashups that wouldn’t be out of place in New York’s culinary scene (French fries and fermented sausage, anyone?)—though likely for a fraction of the price,” wrote the website.

Here are the various banh mi Munchies sampled:

Banh mi pa te

"At Banh My Lan Ong, however, the duck pâté is still made fresh every morning by the family of the original owner, who is now 87 years old…There’s no menu—just order one banh mi, and you’ll get bread with a thick spread of pâté, topped with pork floss, crunchy fried shallots, cucumber, cilantro, and chili sauce.”

Banh mi trung

"Vendor Thuan has been selling banh mi outside her apartment complex in central Hoan Kiem District for more than 20 years. To make her no-frills banh mi trứng ngải cứu, (13,000 dong), she cracks two eggs into a plastic container and adds a handful of ngai cuu (mugwort leaves), then scrambles it all in a battered pan trembling on a charcoal burner. The herbs have an intoxicatingly bittersweet flavor that pairs well with the creamy eggs."

Banh mi thit xien

"On cold, hazy afternoons, vendors cook these grilled pork skewers over curbside grills, their rich aroma tempting passing drivers. Banh Mi Thit Xien Ba Nga is one of the most popular addresses in Hoan Kiem District. Originally a street stall, it’s since expanded to a full-fledged shop where you can relax on a plastic stool and enjoy your sandwich with iced green tea or soymilk…Skewers of tender pork cost 10,000 dong each, with an additional 3,000 dong cost to put them inside a banh mi, garnished with cucumber pickles and chili sauce.”

Banh mi doner kebab

“While it’s not traditionally Vietnamese, the doner kebab banh mi is one of Hanoi’s most popular, sold at carts all over the city. Like traditional doner kebab, these wedge-shaped sandwiches come topped with purple cabbage, sliced cucumber, and tomato. But in a major departure from the original, they get their substance from roasted pork.” 

Banh mi nem khoai

"A family-owned shop next to an elementary school in Hai Ba Trung District—6/28 Huong Vien—launched the trend in 2002. Today, all the surrounding shops also sell banh mi nem khoai, but 6/28 remains the most popular… Heaped with crunchy fries and slathered with ketchup and mayonnaise, the massive sandwich will fill you up for an entire afternoon. The concept might sound like the stuff of late-night regrets, but it’s surprisingly enjoyable, with sweet kernels of corn and ribbons of pickled cabbage balancing its greasier contents.”

Banh mi bo kho

“This street stall at 44 Nhan Hoa Street, opposite a high school in outlying Thanh Xuan District, serves up banh mi and sticky rice topped with decidedly non-traditional toppings such as hot dog and French fries—Vietnam’s homegrown answer to McDonald’s. The banh mi trứng bò kho (10,000 dong)—an oily, satisfying mess of scrambled egg, cucumber, and the addictive shredded dried beef called bò kho—is worth the drive from central Hanoi.”

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