Banh (cake/pastry) Mi (wheat) is the generic name for bread in Vietnam. Variations of Banh Mi are sprinkled throughout the country. It’s conception was in Saignon and its history is a fusion of Vietnamese and French colonial influences. We sampled two on our mini trip to Vietnam and here is their tale.
Made famous by the late Anthony Bourdain “Banh Mi Phuong” has its own cult following in Hoi An with people travelling the length and breadth of the country and internationall…y to sample what Mr. Bourdain called “a symphony in a sandwich” and while I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to the vegan banh mi offerings I will agree that it was a memorable bite. They prepare their tofu and chilli sauce in separate v pans and you have the choice of mixed greens, fresh herbs and avocado to top. The bread is baked next door to the restaurant in a neighbouring bakery and I would imagine given the heaving crowds that it’s more than a once a day baking session. A tick the box that was frequented by locals and tourists in equally measure.
Now you don’t always need a travel guide recommendation to find delicious food. We befriended an equally scrumptious banh mi in Hanoi in a clandestine little spot called… Vegan Banh Mi! It’s a blink and you’ll miss it sort of sign but once spotted take yourself down the alleyway until you feel lost and someone says “vegan Banh Mi” well that was our experience anyway ha ha. Now I’ve dragged my ever patient husband across many cities on the search for vegan food but this was about as local as it got. We plonked ourselves down in their kitchen and watched while they effortlessly rustled up Banh Mi just across the narrow alleyway in a secluded little makeshift kitchen. You had the choice of tofu or seitan, vegan Mayo or pumpkin sauce and they also made a mean samosa. Simple and fresh and a constant flow of suited work folk appearing down the alleyway to collect takeaway. (I asked permission to take the pics)
I can’t wait to go back. Have I said that before?