Battle Banh Mi

20140501-banh_mi Banh mi, pronounced “bun mee”, is the Vietnamese term for a baguette and refers to a Vietnamese sandwich. A banh mi is a baguette with fillings that typically include one to two types of meat – like pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled pork patties, spreadable pork liver pâté, pork floss, grilled chicken, chicken floss, canned sardines in tomato sauce, soft pork meatballs in tomato sauce, head cheese, fried egg and/or tofu. Accompanying vegetables are commonly fresh cucumber slices, sliced chillies, cilantro, pickled carrots and/or pickled daikon. Condiments usually include Sriracha sauce/spicy chili sauce and mayonnaise. Crushed peanuts are sometimes sprinkled on sandwich toppings for added crunch.

Friends visiting from Calgary, AB insisted their local restaurant had the best banh mi, while we insisted our local restaurant in Vancouver, BC had the best ones. With Vietnamese sandwich shops from Silicon Valley included in the taste test, it’s really hard to pick a true favourite now.

Canada Silicon Valley (U.S.A)
  •   Au Petit Cafe (Vancouver, BC)   •   Bun Mee (San Francisco, CA)
  •   Huong Lan Sandwiches (San Jose, CA)
  •   Lee’s Sandwiches
  •   Prather Ranch Meat Co. – American Eatery (San Francisco, CA)
  •   Pho Wagon (Sunnyvale, CA)
Huong Lan Sandwiches has 12 different banh mi sandwiches – from meatball, BBQ chicken, BBQ pork to grilled pork. Huong Lan is cash only, and more of a takeout venue. There are several tables with seating for roughly 20 people only. Vietnamese sandwiches are popular here, but so is their selection of traditional Vietnamese dishes like egg rolls, shrimp salad rolls, sugar cane juice, and Vietnamese desserts.
Lee’s Sandwiches is a fast food restaurant chain specializing in Vietnamese cuisine and famous for selling banh mi.
Prather Ranch Meat Co. – American Eatery does not specialize in nor serve Vietnamese sandwiches, however, one of their menu items is (in my opinion) like a modern twist on a banh mi, “Grilled Pork Loin Sandwich”.

Let your taste buds do the judging!

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Related articles:
  •   CHOW: Chowhounds Pick the Best Banh Mi Sandwiches in San Jose
  •   NY Times Style Magazine: The Vietnamese Sandwich | Banh Mi in America
  •   Maxim Magazine: Damn Good Sandwich | Making The Perfect Banh Mi
  •   Finding, Feasting & Making Vietnamese Sandwiches

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