Is Bánh Mì The Best Sandwich In The World?
Travel and food writer, David Farley, recently visited Vietnam on an assignment from the BBCto answer a question many others have pondered – “is bánh mì the world’s best sandwich?”
On his 2-week trip, Farley sampled about 15 bánh mì sandwiches across Vietnam.
It was something of a quest of redemption for the writer who had nearly dismissed the sandwich after an unremarkable experience in Saigon a few years earlier:
“I’d found the bread stale and the ingredients skimpy; inside was a paltry mix of a few slices of ham, a smear of pate and flaccid cilantro and carrots. I gave up after one sandwich. I’d had far better bánh mì in New York City; even Minneapolis! Was I crazy? Could the bánh mì outside of Vietnam actually be better?”
This time, Farley started in Hanoi where he quickly changed his tune:
“The crunch of bread was followed by an interplay of porky goodness with a slight kick of spice. It was more like a meat sandwich. I loved it.”
Food ultimately reflects its environment and local tastes - he found that Hanoians favored a minimalist version of bánh mì, one with few fresh veggies or herbs, while in Hoi An, these ingredients what were liberally stuffed into baguettes.
Of course, "different" is not synonymous with "bland" and in Hoi An, he found a different, but equally impressive version of the Vietnamese staple:
“…with high-quality pork, two different pork-based sauces and a few surprises like tomato and pickled papaya and I had a very good sandwich in my hands.”
Farley left Vietnam with a full stomach and an altered opinion, stopping just short of declaring bánh mì the best sandwich in the world:
“That bánh mì I tried in Saigon a few years ago – the one that turned me off to the sandwich for a while – was just a fluke.”
“Something that combines so much pork with fresh herbs all stuffed into a crispy baguette is, I have to say, a pretty magical sandwich.”
Our Vietnamese staff, all from Saigon, have previously expressed their love for bánh mì, but more for its utility than its taste.
What say you, Saigoneers? Is bánh mì the world’s best sandwich?