The Beginner’s Guide To Banh Mi, Vietnam’s Favourite Food
Hunting down a locally made banh mi will be high on the bucket list for any food-loving Aussie headed to Vietnam, now that the stuffed bread roll has skyrocketed in popularity here at home, becoming as beloved as its culinary kin, pho or rice paper rolls.
Trứng or ốp la is egg banh mi, or the best breakfast in all of Vietnam. Ordering a banh mi trứng or trứng chiên gets you an omelette-like egg filling, occasionally flavoured with green herbs. Meanwhile, ốp la comes with scrumptious fried eggs. The wording varies, but it’s always delicious.
Chay is great for vegetarians. Keep an eye out for this one on restaurants and food carts. It’s your key to a meat-free meal in Vietnam. Banh mi chay comes in various forms, from fried tofu and vegetarian “meat” to only vegetables.
Cha ca is fish cakes. In appearance, the patties look a bit like discoloured tofu. Expect it to be chopped and (re)fried nicely before being served to you on crispy baguette.
Ga nướng: If ga is chicken, ga nuong is… BBQ chicken!
As for where to buy your banh mi, the best rolls generally come from small roadside shops or portable stalls. Many of these vendors will have the types of banh mi printed on the front of their store in block letters.
As is a popular theory with travellers – always go to a place that’s busy with locals. The produce will be fresh and the product tasty.
(Lead image: Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau / Flickr)