- Get yourself a ticket for Ho Chi Minh.
- Ask the driver to take you to the tallest building in town (It’s the Bitexco Financial Tower).
- Walk around the tower until you find a corner restaurant with a long line of locals and tourist(It’s Nhu Lan restaurant).
- Wait in line and get a banh mi.
- Enjoy and maybe buy a second sandwich for the road.
Nhu Lan restaurant is an institution in Ho Chi Minh, the kind of place which might just be the epicenter of the banh mi universe.
This corner restaurant is insanely busy and if you look closely, it’s a well oiled banh mi machine with its own industrial bakery just a couple of doors down the street.
I first ordered from the traditional banh mi counter a sandwich with pâté, cold cuts, pickled vegetables and a very nice mayonnaise.
The bread was crusty and flaky, the meat was great and the hot peppers gave a great spicy kick.
There is a whole team assembling the banh mi behind the long counter and they could hardly keep up with the demand. People would pull over on their scooter, hand over their money, grab a bag and go.
After enjoying this banh mi, I decided to try the kebab banh mi stall which is on the side street facing the Bitexco tower.
I had read that kebab banh mi was the new thing and I wasn’t disappointed. The meat which I believe was pork was cooked to perfection and the filling was very similar to the traditional version.
I went to Nhu Lan twice during my short stay in Ho Chi Minh and I wish I had more time to try more banh mi but I only have one stomach and there was simply to many places and food to try.
My previous banh mi experiences were my weekly sandwich at Hoa Nam on Rue d’Ivry in Paris which were very similar to the kebab banh mi I had in Vietnam.
I think the biggest difference between the banh mi I had in France and the banh mi in Vietnam would be the bread. Bread in Vietnam is made with some rice flour which makes it very light and flaky. I wish I could eat that bread everyday, but I am afraid I will go back to my daily bowl of rice as soon as I land in Japan.
What is your favorite banh mi restaurant?