Saturday, November 23, 2013

I'm back and missing the banh mi badly from Huynh Hoa

The trip to Asia was unbelievable.  I saw so many things ! Ate a lot ! Loved it all.  My heart is still over there.  My body is here.  Shivering.  (Why is it so cold?  I know it's winter.  But why !)

No bias - really ! But Vietnam, hands down, had the best food.  And if there was any sole reason why you should want to go to Vietnam, it should be for this banh mi.

I mean, the pho was spectacular, and we'll definitely talk about that soon enough, but my mom cooks some killer pho.  My mom cannot, however, cook killer banh mi.  Saigon's Huynh Hoa can.


The shop is open from 2:30p to midnight.  Do not go in the morning like us unless you just want to see them sitting on the floor preparing the fixings for the day.  Do go at 2:35p like us to watch them make the first dent into the mound of glorious pate.

And also go at any other time of day, like us, because you just can't get enough.
Why is it just so good?

It might be because the bread baker is so cool.  He just sits there by their wood-crate-encased oven, smoking cigarettes and posing for pictures like a gaddamn pro.

Then he so effortlessly puts his hands into the oven to turn those suckers over when it's time.  Like a baawwse.

Or it might be because all their beautiful meats are stacked tall in neat piles, and they are so generous (and consistent) in packing your sandwich with every single cut known to man including pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, and shredded pork.

Look at that fluffy shredded pork that you could just sleep on and have the most wonderful pigacious dreams.

The shop is just a walk and go.  We always ordered ones with everything on it (beware of the crazy spicy peppers, but they make a memorable experience), and then you hand over 28,000 VND per (~$1.4 USD) in exchange for a clear plastic bag of joy.

We would then take our sandwiches over to the giant Starbucks down the road.

I never thought I would say this, but, I had the best banh mi of my life at a Starbucks.  This is what Vietnam does to you.  But the Starbucks in Vietnam doesn't care what you eat there, they offer unlimited napkins (a serious Asian luxury), the best bathrooms, and wifi (with purchase of a drink).  And! Air conditioning !

The sandwich is so huge - like the size of my giant forearm.

Contrary to the sandwiches you find in the US, the ratio of meat and vegetables is definitely reversed... to the point where the sandwich is virtually only tasty, tasty meat.

The peppers look sparse, but are ever so effective. 

And the bread is just absolute perfection.  Crispy yet SO moist and fluffy.  Your mouth will not be cut up.  Your mouth will weep from the blissful experience.

AND.  You know how the best part of eating an Nestle drumstick is that hardened chocolate chunk at the bottom of the cone?

You get the equivalent with this banh mi.  
A perfect little mouthful of buttery Vietnamese mayo and unctious pate.  Gah.  Heaven.  Tastes.  Like. This.

It might have been overkill to dedicate my first post to this banh mi, and then show you like 20 pictures of the same dish, but it's what happens when your life changes with a single sandwich - the moment you realize what something should taste like and it's astonishingly great !  I miss too many things in Asia, and this is definitely one of the top 3.

More soon!  Hope you're all keeping warm!

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Definite yes. Eat it everyday. Eat it every meal.  Freeze it.  Bring it home.  Send it to me. Love you forever.  Thank you, best friend.

Huynh Hoa
26 Lê Thị Riêng, Bến Thành, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


  1. i want that last bite!! okay who am i kidding... i want every bite!!!

  2. I stumbled upon this blog and noticed that you ventured to the same Creme Caramel store as we did! I still have our experience in my blog here: Drafts From My Coffee Table - Dương Hoa Kem Caramen