Banh mi, the world-famous Vietnamese sandwich, is now available in the size of a palm in Saigon, allowing one to try a variety of different styles.
A stall in Bui Thi Xuan Street in District 1 is being hailed for its small-sized banh mi, an icon of Vietnamese street cuisine.
The eatery offers a wide variety of fillings and sauces in styles from localities from north to south. Some popular items on the menu include Da Lat’s shumai bread (with tomato-sauce meatballs), Saigon’s pork-skin bread and Nha Trang’s fish-cake bread.
A palm-sized banh mi in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Vi Yen.
The baguette used here is different from elsewhere in Saigon in that it has central region-style thick crust, which prevents the sandwich from crumbling and retains more of the sauces when being eaten.
For big eaters, the stall also serves normal-sized baguettes.
One of the stall’s most most popular fillings is the tamarind-flavoured grilled beef roll. To make the filling, beef reportedly imported from America is minced, seasoned with salt and pepper, and grilled. Then, right after being taken out of the oven, it is dipped in sweet and sour tamarind sauce to further add to the taste.
The tamarind-flavoured grilled beef roll is one kind of filling for the banh mi. Photo by VnExpress/Vi Yen.
Instead of using daikon radish pickle like at many other Saigon-based stalls, this place uses papaya and carrot pickles with a more crunchy texture. Other fillings are used depending on the order, such as grilled beef bread with laksa leaves and honey-glazed pork bread with fried onion.
The stall also has sate chilis, which is made by stir-frying minced chili with salt, garlic and sugar and comes with a pungency unique to central Vietnam cuisine.
A set of five small sandwiches. Photo by VnExpress/Vi Yen.
A set with five small sandwiches in a variety of styles is sold for VND80,000 ($3.5). The normal-sized sandwich costs VND30,000-VND40,000 ($1.3-1.7).
Due to its small space, the stall targets mainly takeout customers, though there are a few seats inside.