Who doesn’t love a good hearty and delicious sandwich. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a high chance you’ve heard of, or at least tried the famed Banh Mi.
Think crusty baguette rolls slathered with pâté and mayo before it’s packed with pickled vegetables, cilantro and fresh chillies and doused with seasoning. Let’s not forget the mighty serving of ham, chicken, beef or pork inside that makes for a quick, satisfying lunch.
While the sandwich has become one of the most iconic street foods in Vietnam, the history of the dish far outweighs its simple appearance.
During the first World War, bread was used as a way for the French to reinforce European superiority over the Vietnamese locals — it was impossible to grow wheat in Vietnam, and the cost of importing flour from France had made bread prices far higher than the average citizen could afford. This all changed when war broke out in Europe. French officials and soldiers that were stationed in Indochina were called back to assist with war efforts, which left the Vietnamese market flooded with a surplus of European products, all at discounted prices.
When the French left, Vietnamese in the south started to modify French dishes to include local ingredients: butter was replaced with mayonnaise, and expensive cold cuts made way for vegetables. Banh Mi became a dish everyone could afford.
The scrumptious sandwich only found its way to Singapore years later, and we’re more than happy to have it on our shores. Read on our hitlist of where to get the best Banh Mi in Singapore.
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore
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Banh Mi Thit started as an inconspicuous store in Geylang, but they’ve gone on to open a second and third storefront — in Tampines and Whampoa neighbourhood — after rising to fame with their Banh Mi. A quick confession, we have the baguettes here at least once a month. The pork Banh Mi is one of the eatery’s bestsellers, and it’s not hard to see why. An order of it will see freshly baked baguettes slathered in a mixture of egg-based margarine and Banh Mi sauce before it’s jam-packed with onions, cucumbers and thinly shaved pork. Other flavours here include chicken, ham, and beef.
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Stepping into 233 Banh Mi is akin to stepping into a time portal — everything about the cosy eatery reminds us of those old-school, no-frills takeaway joints we used to patron when we were younger. Four Banh Mi options make up the entire menu here. Besides the traditional Banh Mi, diners can opt to have Chicken, Barbecue Beef or Tuna in their sandwich, all for a neat price of S$5.50. Each roll is generously packed with tons of herbs and spices too, so if you’re one for a flavourful roll, you’ve come to the right spot.
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Le Café Vie5 is a quaint little Vietnamese cafe located in Paya Lebar, complete with rolls of Banh Mi, mains and snacks. While the bowls of pho proved to be a fantastic option for rainy days, we prefer to get the original Banh Mi, stuffed with your choice of stir-fried pork, chicken, or beef. Each is dressed with egg, pickled vegetables, herb leaves, and house chilli sauce.
Le Cafe Vie5 is also the only direct importer, supplier, roaster and brewer of coffee beans from Vietnam in Singapore, so apart from serving homemade coffee, they also sell a variety of house-roasted beans that’s sure to please any coffee connoisseur.
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Family-run Co Chung Restaurant was born out of a dream to bring recipes of home in Vietnam to Singapore, so you can trust that everything you have here is authentically Vietnamese. Besides the hearty bowls of noodles and crispy spring rolls, we love popping into the Plaza Singapura locale for a quick bite of their Traditional Vietnamese Sandwich. Think layers of pork pâté and fresh vegetables encased in a crunchy baguette bun — the perfect speedy, filling lunch if you’re in town. They have another outlet in Boat Quay as well.
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We’re not even suggesting Moc Quan to those who are nearby UE Square Shopping Mall, we’re recommending everyone to make a trip down just for their Banh Mi. The Banh Mi experience at Moc Quan starts from the very beginning — they’ve imported a special oven and flour from Vietnam just to re-create a taste of the street food here in Singapore. Beef lovers will find themselves enamoured by the Bo Bi Let, a crispy yet fluffy baguette that’s stuffed with marinated sliced beef and egg while vegetarians can opt for the Banh Mi Op La, packed with an egg and tons of vegetables.
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A visit to Banh Mi Saigon will transport you back to the streets of Ho Chi Minh. While it’s located in a neighbourhood in Ang Mo Kio, it shares a storefront with a Vietnamese minimart, with snacks and instant noodles available for your perusal against the backdrop of Vietnamese songs. Here, there’s a large selection of 13 types of Banh Mi on the menu — think roasted pork, BBQ pork, grilled meat, mixed pork skin, egg and more. The“special great” Banh Mi Thit comes with three different types of house-made hams, complete with a sprinkle of floss for added flavour.
(Image credit: @banhmisaigon505 via Instagram)
Ky Anh Quan, previously known as Samsim Vietnam Cuisine, is known for its no-frills Vietnamese cuisine, including their Banh Mi, of course. We like to refer to Banh Mi here as Banh Mi bombs — each one of these crusty baguettes are stuffed with a generous amount of filling that makes them so huge, they have to be cut up into four pieces. Other dishes to try include the Bánh cuốn, Chả giò and Phở.
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If that picture isn’t enough to convince you to try the Co Hai baguette, here’s a PSA of what it’s really packed with: ham, Chinese sausage, roasted barbecue pork, pork floss, pâté, cucumber, chilli, coriander, pickled carrots, and daikon. The crusty Banh Mi showed zero signs of sogginess despite the plethora of ingredients, and instead remained delightfully fluffy and crumbly, so you better have some wet tissue ready before you head down. Wash it all down with a glass of their sweet (and strong) iced Vietnamese coffee and you’re good to go.
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Looking for a new late-night supper spot? We’re headed to Nhung Kitchen, an unassuming Vietnamese joint serving Banh Mi and other rice and noodle dishes from 11am to 2am daily. The eatery, which was named after Nhung, the wife of the married couple duo who runs the shop, and was born during the pandemic when “times were tough.” Here, the flavourful beef Banh Mi remains the bestseller, but diners can also choose between other fillings like the barbecue pork, or the ham and pâté.
(Image credit: @wenshidaebak via Instagram)
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