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Vietnamese bread: The fantastic street food to rouse your taste buds

10/01/2024 9.809

Vietnamese bread is a highlight on the global culinary map. Believe it or not, the dish has a long history of development in Vietnam. Now, it has many variations, thanks to the creativity of local chefs.

Vietnamese bread

Vietnamese food has been more and more recognized in the world with its many mouth-watering delicacies.
Vietnamese bread, in particular, has gained the attention of many foreigners. Let’s see how it came to be and how it has been modified to suit the tastes of both locals and visitors. Then, you will understand more about Vietnamese culture and cuisine.

1. About Vietnamese bread

1.1. The origin of Vietnamese bread

Vietnamese bread, or Vietnamese baguette (or banh mi in Vietnamese) was brought to Vietnam by the French in the 1980s along with other baked goods such as pâté chaud. During World War I, many French soldiers were sent to Vietnam. The shortage of wheat forced local bakers to mix inexpensive rice flour with wheat, which also made the bread fluffier. Hence, the ordinary Vietnamese then could afford the once-luxurious bread and other French staples.

Vietnamese bread

In 1954, Vietnamese bread was brought to Saigon by millions of migrants from the North. Two migrants, namely Le Minh Ngoc and Nguyen Thi Tinh, opened a small bakery named Hoa Ma in District 3. In 1958, Hoa Ma became one of the first shops to offer “banh mi thit” (bread with pork). Around this time, other migrants from the North began selling “banh mi cha” (bread with grilled pork paste) and stuffed it with Cheddar cheese, which was gotten from French food aid. 

After 1975, Vietnamese banh mi became a luxury commodity when state-owned pho (beef noodles) shops often served bread as a side dish. This led to the present-day habit of dipping quay (crispy bagel twists) in beef noodles. In the 1980s, market reforms made Vietnamese baguette popular again as a street food. At the same time, Vietnamese Americans introduced Vietnamese bread to various areas in the US. 

1.2. The position of Vietnamese bread in the global food map 

Since the 1990s, Vietnamese migrants have been popularising Vietnamese food to the world, including the presence of Vietnamese bread and Pho in London. Many foreigners now enjoy Vietnamese baguette as a staple food in their daily diet. 

Vietnamese bread

Vietnamese bread was featured in the 2002 PBS documentary titled “Sandwiches that You Will Like”. The word ‘banh mi’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary on March 24, 2011. In 2017, Vietnamese baguette was included in some 2% of restaurant menus in the US, which was a fivefold increase from that in 2013. On March 24, 2020, Google introduced Vietnamese banh mi in the Google Doodle. CNN has listed Vietnamese bread among the best 23 sandwiches in the world.

>>> Read more at Vietnam where to go: The 10 HOTTEST destinations in 2023 to know the top destinations in Vietnam!

>>> Also read more at Vietnam things to do: 10 MUST-HAVE experiences on a First Visit to better plan for your Vietnam trip!

2. The ingredients of Vietnamese bread

2.1. Bread

Vietnamese bread is a short baguette with thin, crisp crust and soft, airy texture. It can be made from either wheat flour or rice flour. It can be eaten plain or alongside dishes from meat such as beef stew, offal stew, or curry. It can also be dipped in condensed milk.

Vietnamese bread

2.2. Fillings

Vietnamese baguettes can be opened lengthwise and filled with many fillings, such as pork sausages, coriander leaves, cucumber, pickled carrots, pâté, and red chilli. The fillings may vary according to localities. 

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3. The variations of Vietnamese baguette across the country

There are many kinds of Vietnamese bread throughout the country thanks to the creativity of local chefs.

3.1. Vietnamese baguette in Hanoi

It is said that Vietnamese baguettes in Hanoi have simpler fillings than those in other places. Hanoi’s people prefer fewer kinds of fillings, which may include butter, liver pâté, fried pork, ham, char siu, coriander, cucumber, and chilli sauce. The fillings match well with the crunchy bread outside.

Vietnamese bread

Below are some places to enjoy the best banh mi Vietnamese street food in the capital:

  • Banh Mi Pho Co

Address: 38 Dinh Liet, Hang Dao Ward, Hoan Kiem District

Opening hours: 7 am - 12 am

  • Banh Mi Pho Hue

Address: 118 Pho Hue, Bui Thi Xuan Ward, Hai Ba Trung District

Opening hours: 6.30 am - 9.30 pm

  • Banh Mi Ba Dan

Address: 34 Lo Su, Ly Thai To Ward, Hoan Kiem District

Opening hours: 6 am - 10 pm

3.2. Vietnamese bread in Hai Phong

Vietnamese baguettes in Hai Phong are much smaller than those in other places. The fillings are often some liver pâté and lots of chilli. The small bread is often baked hot, which results in a crunchy crust blended well with soft and spicy fillings.

Vietnamese bread

Below are some recommended shops to enjoy Vietnamese baguette in Hai Phong:

  • Banh Mi Cay Ong Gia

Address: 181 Hang Kenh, Le Chan Ward

Opening hours: 7 am - 7 pm

  • Banh Mi Cay Ong Cuong

Address: 184 Hang Kenh, Le Chan District

Opening hours: 6 am-11 pm

  • Banh Mi Cay Ba Gia

Address: 57 Le Loi, May To Ward, Ngo Quyen District

Opening hours: 7 am - 7 pm

3.3. Vietnamese bread in Da Nang

Vietnamese bread in Central Vietnam’s Da Nang is inspired by those in the South and the North. The bread is of medium size, with a crunchy crust and various fillings such as fried pork, salted shredded chicken, and minced beef paste.

Vietnamese bread

Below are some recommended shops to enjoy Vietnamese baguette in Da Nang:

  • Banh Mi Ong Ti

Address: 189 Trung Nu Vuong, Hoa Thuan Tay Ward, Hai Chau District

Opening hours: 3 pm - 11 pm

  • Banh Mi Ga Co Chi

Address: 45 Phan Dinh Phung, Hai Chau 1 Ward, Hai Chau District

Opening hours: 6 am - 10 am and 2.30 pm - 7pm

  • Banh Mi Ba Lan

Address: 62 Trung Nu Vuong, Hoa Thuan Tay Ward, Hai Chau District

Opening hours: 6.30 am - 10.30 am and 3 pm - 11 pm

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3.3. Vietnamese baguette in Hoi An

Local street stalls and shops in the ancient town of Hoi An offer delicious Vietnamese banh mi at reasonable prices that attract many foreign backpackers. The bread here is of medium size, with a very crispy crust and lots of fillings. The fillings can include up to ten ingredients, such as ham, sausage, grilled pork, chicken, egg, and cheese. If you come to the nearby Tra Que Vegetable Village, its herbs will bring an even more excellent flavour to your Vietnamese baguette.

Vietnamese bread

Below are some recommended shops to enjoy Vietnamese baguette in Hoi An:

  • Banh mi Phuong

Address: 2B Phan Chu Trinh, Cam Chau Ward

Opening hours: 7 am - 8 pm

  • Banh mi Co Lanh

Address: 430 Cua Dai, Cam Chau Ward

Opening hours: 6 am - 10 pm

Address: 115 Tran Cao Van, Minh An Ward

Opening hours: 6.30 am - 7.30 pm

Vietnamese bread

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3.4. Vietnamese bread in Da Lat

Da Lat is a city in Central Vietnam which has cool weather all year round. The weather may make you get hungry faster than in other warmer areas. Hence, trying Vietnamese bread here may be even more exciting. The bread here is a little thicker, which is served with a cup of thick sauce and pork meatballs. You should break the loaf of bread into small pieces and dip them in the sauce. The dish is accompanied with lots of vegetables, such as cucumber, white radish, carrot, cilantro, and chilli.

Vietnamese bread

Below are some recommended shops to enjoy Vietnamese baguette in Da Lat:

  • Banh Mi Thit Vien Hoang Dieu

Address: 47 Hoang Dieu, Ward 5

Opening hours: 6 am - 3 pm

  • Banh Mi Ngon

Address: Nguyen Van Cu Street, Ward 1

Opening hours: 6 am - 10 pm

  • Banh Mi Chao 27

Address: 105 Nguyen Luong Bang, Ward 2

Opening hours: 6 am - 1 pm

3.5. Vietnamese baguette in Saigon

Vietnamese bread in Saigon has a crispy aroma and rich fillings of meat, pâté, fish, butter, along with fresh vegetables. Thus, the locals can also have banh mi as the main dish. Saigon’s people have created many variations of bread, such as fried baguette, baguette with roasted pork, baguette with omelet, baguette with char siu, baguette with beef steak and baguette with meatballs.

Vietnamese bread

Below are some recommended shops to enjoy Vietnamese baguette in Saigon:

  • Banh Mi Huynh Hoa

Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1

Opening hours: 1 pm – 11 pm

  • Banh Mi Coc

Address: Outside No. 38, Nguyen Thai Son Street, Ward 3, Go Vap District

Opening hours: 5 am – 8.30 pm

  • Banh Mi Co Diep

Address: 238 Vo Thanh Trang, District 11, Tan Binh District

Opening hours: 5 am – 12 am

Vietnam cuisine is the fruit of the hard labour and surprising creativity of the locals, in which Vietnamese bread is a typical example. The dish originated in France and has been flexibly modified to suit the increasing demands and diverse tastes of customers. After learning about Vietnamese baguette, you may find it even more tasty when you try it on your Vietnam trip.

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