The best Vietnamese banh mi sandwich in the world is in Hoi An (as featured on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain)

Put simply, the food in Vietnam is amazing. Assuming you like this style at all, this country might be the perfect foodie destination since Vietnam is notorious for dishes bursting with just-picked vegetables and herbs, prepared with care, and all at jaw-droppingly low prices.

The colonial French influence on the cuisine here is subtle, but it’s still easy to spot with the excellent fresh baguettes all over, plus the general emphasis on quality in both flavor and presentation.

If you’ve seen the first “No Reservations” episode shot in Vietnam you might remember that amazing sandwich that Tony and his old boss from Les Halles, Philippe Lajaunie, scarfed down just outside the main market. Either way, the video of that segment is below.

Traveling slowly around Vietnam as I am, I knew I had to try to find this little sandwich stand when I got to Hoi An. The banh mi sandwiches I’ve had in Hanoi and elsewhere have been great, but Hoi An seems to be have the best food in the country from what I’ve read, and my experiences here definitely back that up.

There’s no way I could properly describe banh mi sandwiches myself, partly because they seem to vary from stand to stand and from city to city. The wikipedia page for banh mi does a good job, and it explains that this is a Vietnamese variation of what is basically a French “salad sandwich.” All the ones I’ve tried have contained the liver pate as well as the pork slices, but I do believe that they’ll make you a vegetarian version if you can communicate that to them.

Finding this exact sandwich stand

I looked all around the Hoi An main market and I didn’t see it. The market here is packed with fruits, vegetables, freshly butchered meats, plus nearly everything that cooks in this city need, and it’s big and confusing. I went on Google and found nothing, even when I tried entering in the text from the sign that is visible in the “No Reservations” video.

But on my next attempt I found it right away. It’s at the far eastern entrance to the market, along Hoang Dieu street. There’s no official address that I could find, so I made a map of the place to help future visitors find the place easily.

Map to find this banh mi stand


View Tiem Banh Mi Phoung in Hoi An, Vietnam in a larger map

My first attempt

The name of the place is Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương, which I’m told basically means Phuong’s banh mi shop. Banh mi is both the name of the bread and the name of the sandwich, by the way. They also do catering for weddings and special events, according to the person who translated the sign for me.

The day I found it I ordered one and it was almost as wonderful as I’d imagined, but something was missing, namely that freshly fried (and greasy looking) egg on top.

So I came back the next day and this time I had the YouTube video loaded in my iPhone so I could show them. On this visit it was a different woman making the sandwiches. Perhaps it was Phuong this time, or maybe not.

She speaks very little English but she understood that I wanted to show her a video. She watched the beginning and began to smile and laugh. She said it was her in the video making Tony’s sandwich. She watched the rest of it and then asked me if the guy in the video was a friend of mine (he’s not).

Apparently she didn’t realize that she’s been featured in a small slice of food porn on a show that is popular around the world. I told her that it’s not a video shot by a friend of mine, but this was a famous travel host that is known and watched by millions of people.

I’m still not sure how well she understands, but she did call some friends over and asked me to play the video once again, which I did.

This time I got the “banh mi deluxe”!

I told her that I wanted the same sandwich she made for them on the show and she began to put it together. Evidently these things are made freestyle and they might have an ingredient one day and not the next, so there isn’t one strict recipe. I stressed that I wanted the egg on top, so she went to the little portable stove behind her and fired it up. The fried egg, it seems, is something special you have to ask for.

This time she asked me if I wanted freshly sliced tomatoes and also sliced green chili peppers and I told her that I absolutely did. She seemed delighted to be making a sandwich for a “fan” and I have a feeling that everyone can get the same service if they just ask.

Now that she knows it was on a famous TV show I imagine it’ll be that much easier to get the deluxe version for people who mention it.

The price of this amazing banh mi?

Nearly everything in Vietnam is ridiculously cheap by “Western” standards, with food being a particular bargain. Oddly enough, even though it’s one of the loveliest and most touristy cities in the country, Hoi An prices are even lower than other major cities.

Banh mi = 15,000 dong (about US$0.78)
Update: 30,000 dong (US$1.44) in May 2012 according to David in the comments, although it’s possible that she charges less for locals or for the non-egg version.

And you might think asking for the fried egg and tomatoes and peppers would increase the cost, but amazingly it’s still 15,000 dong no matter what you get on the thing.

I’ve had very good banh mi in Hoi An from a place in a more residential neighborhood and it was only 10,000 dong, and other good ones in the tourist district of Hanoi for 20,000 dong, but this one at this shop was definitely the best one I’ve had so far, and I’d say that even if I hadn’t first seen it on television.



26 Responses to “The best Vietnamese banh mi sandwich in the world is in Hoi An (as featured on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain)”

This is awesome… I love that you showed her the video! What a cool experience. :)

 
*Liz Giles says:

That is freaking awesome Rawjr!
Love the show, love the story! Very cool. I really want one of these sandwiches now!

 
nina says:

i just came home from vietnam, we stayed at district 1, and i was looking for the perfect bahn mi to no avail :(

 
PPK says:

Crazy I tried them there and the only other place I could find that makes them really well is Babanbè Banh Mi Deli in Berlin!!!! Nice one Guys

 
vivan says:

looking forward to trying this banh mi as i am in hoi an now! for the person who stayed in d1 in saigon, next time go to ngoc sang on ly tu trong by thu khoa huan. up until this point, that has been the best banh mi i have ever had. there is something special about its mayo spread. though the baguette is little, it packs in big flavor!

 
Thanh Nguyen says:

I stumbled upon this stand when on my honeymoon to Vietnam. I absolutely agree, it is the best banh mi I have ever had, and I’ve had many. I was full off of one but ordered another because it was so delicious. The .50 cent price tag didn’t hurt either. The guy sitting next to me mentioned it was on the show “No Reservations”(that’s why I’m on this site. was looking for the video).

If you have a chance to go to Hoi An, go get yourself a few custom made suits(Hoi An is known for their tailors) and get some banh mis along the way.

 
Lien says:

the banh mi at this place was really good, i tried it when i was Hoi An at the beginning of the year … the meat was not loaded with color and not fatty (i requested to have lean meat), the different kinds of herbs was wonderful, the pate was the only thing i didn’t like because it was not well made, imho … the different sauces could make the banh mi become salty and soggy so i always ask them to put less … for 15000 dong it was a great deal :-)

 
Mimi & Robert says:

We went back in Dec. 2010. This place is so much fun. My husband had to find Binh Mi Phuong in Hoi An after watching No Reservation by Anthony Bourdain. He ordered the sandwich with the fried eggs. It was amazing!! We will be going back there next year! I like the people and the food was again AMAZING!!

 

[...] effort to research the best banh mi in Vietnam, prior to the trip I had found this blog post on Price of Travel detailing a banh mi stand in Hoi An.  I had kept the information but didn’t pull it out [...]

 
Roebaht says:

Thanks for this, man. I have been living in Ha Noi for 5 months and have been completely disappointed with the Bahn Mi. Although the Doner Kababs are nice… Anyway, with the aid of your map, I was able to find this place and enjoy the Bahn Mi goodness. You rock!

 

Hoi An has two absolute world class foods that can be combined – the banh mi from Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương and the Ot Tuong Trieu Phat Chili Sauce only from 41 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street. This chili sauce recipe has been passed down over five generations and is beyond description. If you are a chili lover, once you taste Ot Tuong Trieu Phat Chili Sauce the rest of your chili-life is an anti-climax. The real gastronomic sensation is to combine this chili sauce with the banh mi from Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương!!

 
Dave says:

The best banh mi I had in Vietnam was in a crappy one-road-town where you get to Phuong Nha cave from called Dong Hoi. It was from a little bakery just near the roundabout on the main strip. Amazing, it had everything and more and she made it so fast I couldn’t even catch what was in it. Wish I’d tried the one in Hoi An but I was too busy munching Cau Lau from the Blue Dragon (the best). Hoi An was def the culinary highlight of the trip.

 
Antony Davies says:

My wife and I are travelling south to north an Vietnam and can also vouch for the amazing food here. Were in Hoi an at the moment and have also takn in 6 (between us) of these little tastes of heaven! The bread is insanely crispy and moist with the added in posrk juice. They are also very individual with little subtleties with each one. Have also bought some f the chilli sauce mentioned above. A perfect accompiany t the banh mi. Were so enamoured with Hoi an that were planning in coming in back in October. Foodie heaven!

 
katie says:

wow you got what what you asked for, awesome! That’s how I like to travel as well, sampling great food everywhere I go!

 
Pete says:

I had a banh mi from that stand back in Feb 11 when I was visiting Hoi An. Didn’t know about the “No Reservations” connection until now. The banh mi was damn good…but…there is better one up around the corner on Cua Dai road on way to the beach. The lady there starts each morning at about 8 and trades until she sells out – not long. Same again at 4pm. Its a brisk trade mainly as a drive by to bikes and scooters. They were damn good…

 
acninth says:

omg I sooooo cannot wait to find and have the best banh mi sandwich as soon as I land in Vietnam in 16 days!
Thanks for the 411, I hope to find it without getting lost :))

 
Jamie Goldstein says:

Trying out your directions tomorrow! I’m right down the road from the market. Can’t wait.

 
David Bradley says:

The Banh Mi at this stand is just as good as advertised, thanks to your map I found it easily. The same woman served it up, but the price is doubled what you paid. Its now 30,000 VND ($1.50 USD), still the best sandwich I ever ate.

(Thanks for the price information. I’ll update the post now -Roger)

 
Bertha Javier says:

I’m gonna hunt for the exact same place later! Thank you so much for this :)

 
Davo says:

Just found this place half an hr ago (thanks to your directions) can still taste the chilli nd pâté, wow best banh mi I’ve ever had.. Thanks for the heads up!

I see a classic hoi an storm rolling in now!!

 

Just watched that episode thursday night here in Australia. Lucky me! I will be in Hoi an next month Sept 2012. Thanks for posting the location mate.

 
Dean Heke says:

Still awesome had them for lunch with my 5 and 7 year old (slightly modified for the kids) definitely up there with best in the world

 
Sam says:

Went there today, still good! Got 2 combinations (no egg) and 2 cafe sua da for 60,000.

 
Annie says:

Haha! We wanted to track down this after watching Bourdain’s show. Thanks for blogging. Great Banh Mi and we paid 20,000 for the deluxe today.

 
Marc says:

I never would have found this place w/out your post. You’ve made this place a destination. The sandwich exceeded my expectations. I paid 30,000 dong and it was well worth it. Absolutely awesome. Thank you!

 
HMich says:

We went today. 15k dong without egg, 20k dong with.
Loved it!

 

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