Famously, Anthony Bourdain celebrated Banh Mi Phuong on television and it hasn’t looked back since. With cheap prices and a vast selection, tourists flock there, but so do locals early in the day. Throughout the fuss, Banh Mi Phuong has retained its fresh ingredients and home-made pates and sauces, consolidating it in Hoi An’s top rank.
Banh Mi is a lightly toasted bread roll (till it’s crisp) that is then filled with an array of herbs, salad, special sauces (often hot), mayonnaise, pate and different cuts of pork. When done well it is a tantalising taste dance across the full spectrum and exquisitely moreish. Trust me, there is no other sandwich like it anywhere in the world. It has evolved uniquely from piquant Vietnamese combinations alongside French colonial influences and, because it involves home-made ingredients, it can differ greatly from one vendor to the next.
Street vendors offer Banh Mi for around half a dollar. Some are great value but at Banh Mi Phuong it’s a step up that’s well worth it for just 50 cents more. The cuts of meat are better, the ingredients prepared with meticulous care and the filling more generous.
No-one else offers a selection as extensive as Banh Mi Phuong (by a long way) and don’t worry about language problems, there’s a large menu board prominently displayed with English and you can order by number (A No. 7 please!). Aside from the traditional pork style, you can have beef with eggs or cheese, tuna, cheese and onion, chicken and cheese or a hamburger to name a few.
Most people grab a banh mi and run but Banh Mi Phuong has ample seating out the back if you want to take a load off. Here, a small selection of Hoi An speciality foods that don’t involve bread like White Rose (prawn dumplings) and Mi Quang (local noodles) are also available.
Hoi An is often regarded as the doyen of Banh Mi in Vietnam and, for many, Banh Mi Phuong is their preferred vendor.