We saw this street vendor near our hotel so we stopped by to get a sandwich and see what it was like.
We didn't get to see her make the sandwich because the stove was at the back of the store, but once Jung opened it up for me to take a picture, we noticed that it had some brownish sauce (maybe Maggi sauce), cucumbers, tomatoes and an egg omelet. The bread looked enormous at first, but it's quite airy so once you hold the sandwich down and take a bite, the insides deflate pretty quickly. It was good, but it was not what we were expecting at all. I thought it would have the crunch of a French baguette, but it was a lot more chewy, more like a roll than a baguette.
My guess is that the banh mys that we have in the states have morphed to adapt to more Western tastes, but this is the traditional way it's eaten in Hanoi. It could be totally different in other parts of Vietnam. It's probably really different in Saigon.
I thought it was weird that while I was doing my research on places to eat, I didn't see much on good eateries for banh my. But I did see banh my doner kebabs being mentioned a fair amount. It's just what the name implies, a banh my and a doner kebab that procreated. The sandwich uses doner kebab, the Turkish shaved pork, along with some other vegetables and chili and tzatziki sauce.
We read that Banh My Ilu was one such place serving up these tasty sandwiches. So Jung and I came here for our afternoon snack, part deux. The shop is painted in a cheery bubblegum pink color, it's hard to miss.
It was interesting, but this too didn't have pickled vegetables, rather had lettuce, tomato and cucumbers, chili peppers and cilantro in it. The NYT article mentioned two other eateries for banh my doner kebabs and perhaps those might have been better picks. We didn't have time to investigate and weren't all that impressed by banh my sandwiches to divert our attention away from the other foods we wanted to try. We chose this one because it happened to be along our route for our next eatery. hehe.
Try Banh My Van (306 Ba Trieu Street) and Cafe Goethe (58 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street) for the banh my doner kebabs and let me know what you think.
Nam Do Bakery
71 Hang Bac (in Old Quarter)
178 Kim Ma Street (this is west of Old Quarter)