Banh mi Hoi An is one of the most popular Vietnamese-style bread that has been loved by locals for decades. Originated in Hoi An ancient town, now it has been widespread all over Vietnam and even many locations in the world.
In this post, we will talk about banh mi Hoi An’s history, ingredients, and recommend to you the best banh mi in Hoi An. You can find banh mi almost anywhere in the ancient town from street vendors to your hotel breakfast buffet so let’s explore this delicious taste of authenticity!
History of Vietnamese bread
Tracing banh mi history, we can see it has been around for almost 100 years. During the French colonization, they spread a false idea: their bread and meat are better for people’s health than local rice and fish.
Also, local people cannot afford bread at this time due to the high price of wheat imported from Europe. Thus, bread is very expensive for Vietnamese people at this time.
The creation of bread ingredients
Until WWII, several bakers began to add rice flour into the bread recipe as the price of wheat flour was very high due to the transportation interruption. Then, the baguette produced had a lighter texture and thinner crispy crust compared to its French original version.
Besides, as the French joined the war, they left behind many perishable goods. The majority of these are food including bread, cheese, butter, milk, etc. and they began to appear at local markets. Thus, these European foods, especially bread, were more affordable to local Vietnamese people since then.
The Vietnamese banh mi was created
After the French withdrawal, people customized the food with local ingredients and flavors to make it suit Vietnamese cuisine. As banh mi was very convenient to carry around, local people had made it a very popular breakfast.
Having a quite similar shape as its French ancestors, banh mi is thinner, airier, and has a crisp, crackly crust.
There are many versions of Vietnamese banh mi as well. You can have it filled with egg, sausage, pork, herbs, etc. or you can have it with butter or condensed milk. Banh mi is now modernized from traditional versions to creative ones.
How to make Banh mi
Vietnamese sandwich has a variety of components from bread to fillings. These ingredients are not limited but differentiate from one region to another in Vietnam.
If you come to a Vietnamese banh mi store, you can see many kinds of banh mi available. Normally, the sellers put all of the ingredients in an open cabinet so that customers can choose their favorite ones.
Thus, do not worry if there is no English menu. You can pick the ingredients you like or ask for a mixed bread (“bánh mì thập cẩm”).
Although there are various versions, most Vietnamese bread has some major ingredients:
The basic baguette recipe mainly contains wheat flour but you can find rice flour in the ingredients depending on the baker’s decision. Yeast is a must-have item to make bread along with flour, water, and a little sugar and salt. It requires some time for the mixture to rest before putting it into the oven.
The desired result is that the bread outer is crispy and golden brown. Normally, at a banh mi store, the bread will be toasted before or after adding the fillings inside. This is to ensure the best taste with good crunch and texture.
The best banh mi in Hoi An is the most famous bread and has outstading quality compared to others in Vietnam.
Known as a popular condiment in French cuisine, pate is added into banh mi to create a rich and savory taste. It can be made from chicken, duck, or pork liver and spread inside the bread before adding other components.
For many banh mi lovers, pate is a must-have ingredient in their favorite Vietnamese sandwich. This is also an essential element in Hoi An banh mi.
To add moisture and flavor to the banh mi, most restaurants/stores will use one or more homemade sauces, oils, or pastes. The most popular sauces to add in Banh mi are chili sauce and mayonnaise.
In Hoi An banh mi, however, people spread special chili sauce, homemade meaty sauce, butter sauce, etc. This is the key to make Hoianese bread more special than others.
Particularly, when you try banh mi Queen Hoi An that we mention below, you can tell the importance of the sauce.
There are different kinds of meat in banh mi and each of them contributes to a distinguished banh mi variation. You can have the choice of the following protein:
- Grilled pork (thịt nướng): Pork is sliced and marinated, then grilled over charcoal. The texture is soft, sometimes crispy while the flavor is sweet and savory.
- Chicken: Usually chicken is cut and marinated with lemongrass and spices. Grilled chicken with lemongrass is also a popular flavor of Banh mi Hoi An.
- Chả lụa/Giò (Vietnamese sausage): It is made from steamed ground pork that is wrapped in banana leaves. Banh mi sellers often cut it into thin slices. This is one of the common elements in Vietnamese bread.
- Xá xíu: This banh mi Hoi An’s popular ingredient is pork meat and is quite similar to Chinese char siu. Marinated and barbecued pork is a favorable filling of Hoi An banh mi. Having a bite and you can taste the juicy soft and sweet slices of xá xíu.
Vegetables and herbs
Cucumbers, shredded pickled carrots, and/or papaya are the common kinds of vegetables in banh mi. They offer the bread a nice texture and layer. The pickled vegetables add a light sour taste to balance the richness of the meat and pate.
Herbs are popular in Vietnamese cuisine. They appear in many daily dish and people put herbs in banh mi to add extra flavor. Coriander and Vietnamese mint are the most prevalent herbs in banh mi.
Hoi An banh mi in the tourism era
Many people believe banh mi is better in Hoi An and it is true! The bread itself is the deciding factor to make a delicious banh mi. Although rice flour is added to reduce the production cost, the best banh mi in Hoi An is usually made with wheat flour to keep its quality.
In a tropical climate like Vietnam, normally the bakers will have to bake the bread twice or more during the day to ensure its taste and texture. Banh mi Hoi An makers also toast it before serving to the customers.
Hoi An banh mi is properly kneaded, formed, and baked. It has special characteristics: light, thin, and especially crispy pointed ends. After the second heating, the bread is even tastier with the crunchy crust adding an amazing texture to the loaf.
Banh mi Hoi An’s specialities that make it the best Vietnamese bread
Many people, particularly the bakers say it is the bread itself that makes a big difference. Bakeries in Hoi An follow the recipes left by the French when they stopped at the ancient town for trading in the mid-1800s.
The bakery owners have not changed the formula since then. Thus, the banh mi Hoi An that they made keeps the original taste and quality.
Moreover, when the banh mi bakers in other regions try to copy the recipe, they do not fully understand step by step. Hence, the quality of the bread in those regions cannot compare to that in Hoi An.
Another reason might be the way they do their service. Banh mi Hoi An is always toasted before being served to its customers. This is to ensure it is crunchy on the outside and warm inside. You might think it is minor but not all of the banh mi stalls can do that.
Hoi An banh mi always maintains its reputation as there is no starchy rice flour or fillers in the bread, just the original ingredients: water, salt, and yeast, and three types of wheat flour.
Tips and costs
Where you can get the best banh mi in Hoi An
There are a lot of bread stalls in Hoi An and none of them are too bad. However, there are a few that stand out from the rest, recognized for offering high-quality Hoi An banh mi. Based on both local and foreign customers’ opinions and preferences, we recommend to you the top 3 Vietnamese sandwich shops in Hoi An ancient town.
Banh mi Phuong – Number 1 banh mi Hoi An
Located at 2B Phan Chu Trinh in the old town, banh mi Phuong is the top-recommended store that tourists cannot miss when traveling here. Arriving at the shop, you can see lines of customers queuing for their banh mi Hoi An.
The reason why this place attracts so many banh mi lovers is because of its diverse menu (about 20 different kinds of banh mi) and excellent quality. Banh mi Phuong also appears on Anthony Bourdain – No reservations, which makes it extremely famous.
We highly recommend you try the mixed banh mi with pork, ham, pate, grilled meat, Vietnamese sausage, etc. The pate is rich and seasoned with black pepper not to mention their tasty meat sauce. They have their bread supply from the next-door bakery so customers never have to worry about the quality of the loaf.
The store is open from 6.30 am to 9.30 pm every day.
Madam Khanh – Banh mi Queen Hoi An
The banh mi shop, situated at 115 Tran Cao Van, belongs to Madam Khanh, also known as the Banh Mi Queen. She has experience of over 30 years selling banh mi and 50 years of selling street food.
The place has the name of her husband who does not make banh mi but assists customers in the store.
The distinctive fillings and sauces of banh mi Queen Hoi An set it apart from the crowd. It is tasty, spicy, rich, and sweet. Once tasting it, you can easily tell the outstanding difference.
Inside her banh mi, customers can find a variety of fillings such as pork or chicken depending on your preference, chả lụa/giò, pickled vegetables and herbs, and egg. The highlight of it is the secret sauce that many people love. The store also has vegetarian banh mi for your choice.
One tip when buying banh mi Queen Hoi An is the sellers often prepare take-away bread in advance which is convenient but not as good as the freshly made ones. So, do not hesitate to ask for a new one to enjoy the best taste.
Banh mi Queen Hoi An is open daily from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm.
Banh mi chay Hoi – a hidden gem for vegetarians
While walking towards the corner of Phan Chau Trinh and Nguyen Hue Street, you can find a small banh mi stall of Ms. Hoi. She sells vegetarian banh mi with various delicious fillings: diced mushroom, marinated tofu, peanuts, vegetables, and herbs. To increase the flavor, she also adds tasty sauce to the bread.
Among the other vegetarian banh mi stalls in town, many people love Ms. Hoi’s bread and come back often. Although her English is not very good, she is kind and always tries to provide the best service for her customers.
Banh mi chay Ms. Hoi is open from 6.30 am to 10.00 pm or when she sells out all of her bread.
Prices of Hoi An banh mi
Normally a banh mi Hoi An costs you from VND 15,000 to 35,000 (about $0.65 to $1.5) depending on what you like for the fillings. You can always get extra fillings for extra money. Usually, the sellers do not charge for pickled vegetables and herbs if you want to get some more.
While banh mi Queen Hoi An has the price of VND 20,000 (near $1), the cost for Phuong’s one varies. If you prefer vegetarian banh mi, that only costs you VND 20,000 and pay an extra of VND 5,000 ($0.2) you can add more fillings.
How to eat banh mi Hoi An
Eating bread should stay on top of your what to do in Hoi An list. You can have it as breakfast, quick lunch or dinner. We recommend that you eat Hoi An banh mi when it is freshly toasted to enjoy the best taste and quality.
Vietnamese people often add more chili sauce or mayonnaise into banh mi to add more flavor, so you might try eating this way as the locals.
One tip for those who wish to try many kinds of banh mi, you can cut the banh mi in half and share it with your families and friends. That way, you can try other different flavors than just one.
Banh mi is one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes and banh mi Hoi An is the most famous of all. The bread, fillings, sauce, everything makes it a special food that is once tasted never forgotten. After visitors leave Hoi An, Vietnam, they long for this traditional street food.
So with this blog post, we hope you can find where, how and what tips to enjoy the best banh mi in Hoi An. Therefore, you will not regret it after your visit!