JUST A MOMENT

As a top priority during my stay in Hoi An, I did extensive retìm kiếm taste testing the best Vietnamese sandwiches the đô thị has to lớn offer. In a series of gruelling challenges, I compared Banh Mi Phuong, Madam Kkhô nóng the Banh Mi Queen, plus a wild thẻ roadside banh mày stall that is reportedly a favourite with the locals. Read on for an overly dramatic deep dive inkhổng lồ the best banh mi in Hoi An. 

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I tasted my first banh mày at Broadway Market, London. Tender, caramelised pork & slices of creamy pate, sandwiched in a crusty baguette with the crunch of salad, a spicy sauce and a sweet-salty set of Vietnamese flavours I’d never experienced before. I remember where I was standing, who I was with, the way the light hit the awning of the food stall as I took my first bite. It was spring. I could smell spice & coriander. It was an awakening.

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Of course, not all banh mis are created equal. “Banh mi” simply means “bread” in Vietnamese, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I had one on a food tour in Ho Chi Minh City that was distinctly average (while all the rest of the food on the same tour was absolutely amazing). It was fine, but it was just a sandwich — a baguette with some cold cuts & limp bits of cucumber stuông chồng in it. Even in Vietnam giới, it seems, ordering a banh mày doesn’t guarantee that you’re going lớn get the specific mix of flavours, textures và crustiness that create, in my opinion, the perfect sandwich experience.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was in Hoi An, known for its street food & trang chủ to two rival Banh Mi shops that are touted as the best in the world. Banh Mi Phuong and Madam Kkhô nóng the Banh Mi Queen both have sầu the stamp of approval from food critics and travel journalists, và have become “must visit” tourist attractions in Hoi An.

During my research into lớn the best banh ngươi in Hoi An I also read a few Hoi An food tour websites just for fun (What? You don’t bởi vì that?) and noticed that a couple of them also reference a third banh mi establishment, called Banh Mi Lanh, with hints that this is one is actually most popular with locals. Instantly intriguing, no?

So which to lớn visit? The answer, obviously, was all of them. But in case you don’t have time to vì chưng the same, or are trying lớn decide which khổng lồ visit first, here’s my opinion on the best banh ngươi in Hoi An, after tasting all three.

Madam Khanh the Banh Mi Queen

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" data-medium-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4931-300x243.jpg" data-large-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4931.jpg" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-563" src="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4931.jpg" alt="Madam Kkhô hanh the Banh Mi Queen, Hoi An, Vietnam" width="1000" height="810" srcset="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4931.jpg 1000w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4931-300x243.jpg 300w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4931-768x622.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" />Madam Kkhô cứng the Banh Mi QueenFor some reason, I didn’t expect the actual Banh Mi Queen lớn be standing at the front of her cửa hàng, shovelling meat inkhổng lồ a baguette. And yet, there she was at the helm, making sandwiches with grim intensity — you could tell from across the street that banh mi is a serious business khổng lồ Madam Khanh hao. I was so shocked lớn see her standing there, calmly creating sandwich art và looking as stern as she does in the pictures, that I did that thing you do when you see a celebrity & act nonchalant / pretkết thúc you don’t know who they are, which is incredibly rude if the celebrity is a sandwich entrepreneur & you’re pushing past them khổng lồ enter their restaurant. I mention this only so that you can prepare yourself & avoid doing the same if you are as socially awkward as I am.

Once I had stopped being confused và flustered, I sat down và ordered the mixed banh ngươi. According khổng lồ the menu, it’s filled with vegetables, pork, đắm đuối, eggs, pate, egg sauce, papaya và cucumber. Note the aplomb with which the Vietnamese have sầu incorporated three types of pork and two types of egg into one sandwich, and you may begin to understvà why banh mis are the best sandwiches in the world. There was also a vegetarian và a chicken option, but I went for the mixed because I think it’s the most traditional version.

The roll was big, meaty and crispy but light, crusty enough to lớn withstvà being soaked in sauce & pork fat without losing its crunch. There was lots of crunchy papaya, carrot and cucumber adding texture and freshness to cut through the fat and spice, & a really delicious balance of flavours. Madam Khanh’s banh mis are pretty spicy. Not unpleasantly so, I enjoyed the extra bite, but I was surprised by how spicy it was & I definitely know people who would have sầu found it too intense to lớn be enjoyable.

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" data-medium-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4911-300x200.jpg" data-large-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4911.jpg" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-564" src="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4911.jpg" alt="Madam Khanh khô the Banh Mi Queen, Hoi An, Vietnam" width="1000" height="666" srcset="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4911.jpg 1000w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4911-300x200.jpg 300w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4911-768x511.jpg 768w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4911-270x180.jpg 270w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" />Seriously have sầu you ever seen anything so beautifulThis banh ngươi was very meaty and filling, I couldn’t actually finish mine. However, I saw a few couples ordering a third one for dessert và when I paid I was asked how many sandwiches I’d had, so it’s clear that a lot of people love these banh mis so much that they have sầu several. The price was 20,000 dong, which is around £0.60 / $0.90. As an unexpected bonus, I also had an egg coffee at Madam Khanh’s. It comes in a bowl of boiling water, in a glass with coffee at the bottom và a golden layer of thichồng, lustrous egg custard-ish stuff on top. (I absolutely love egg coffee, which is basically more of a dessert than a drink, but if you’re concerned about eating partially raw egg, I’d suggest steering clear. I would probably avoid if pregnant for example.) 

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" data-medium-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4923-300x221.jpg" data-large-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4923.jpg" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-565" src="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4923.jpg" alt="Egg coffee at Madam Kkhô giòn the Banh Mi Queen, Hoi An, Vietnam" width="1000" height="737" srcset="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4923.jpg 1000w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4923-300x221.jpg 300w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_4923-768x566.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" />Egg coffee: how can something that sounds so gross taste so good?It wasn’t too sweet, which I enjoyed, but in addition lớn a large baguette sandwich it was pretty heavy và I basically couldn’t eat for the rest of the day. And so in the interest of fairness, I visited Banh Mi Phuong & Banh Mi Lanh on different days, so I’d be as hungry & excited about eating those Vietnamese sandwiches as I was when I visited Madam Khanh’s.

Banh Mi Phuong

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain famously called the Vietnamese sandwiches at Banh Mi Phuong the best in world, and unfortunately the world listened. When I arrived there was a giant crowd gathered at the entrance and a queue stretching to lớn the other side of the street, with motorbikes making elaborate circles to zip around them. There were so many people that instead of eating inside the packed restaurant, rows of people were snacking on their sandwiches in awkward crouches on the pavement. (By the way, in case you’re wondering if I visited at rush hour, I was indeed there at 1pm but I also passed by again at 9pm, & it was almost as crowded). 

It was hot, hectic và unpleasant inside the restaurant, with no available seats. Despite the delicious smells coming from the food stall outside I seriously considered giving up on my quest lớn find the perfect banh mày in Hoi An and going elsewhere. Luckily, as I was standing outside Banh Mi Phuong dithering, a fun New Zealander I’d met at a bar the previous day popped his head out from an upstairs balcony and waved. And so this tip, discovered by chance, is my gift lớn you: there is an upstairs seating area at Banh Mi Phuong, with a balcony, fans & TABLE SERVICE. And it appears that most people don’t know about it, because there were plenty of seats available. Just walk straight in and go up the stairs.

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" data-medium-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5286-300x200.jpg" data-large-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5286.jpg" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-561" src="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5286.jpg" alt="Banh Mi Phuong, Hoi An, Vietnam" width="1000" height="666" srcset="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5286.jpg 1000w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5286-300x200.jpg 300w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5286-768x511.jpg 768w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5286-270x180.jpg 270w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" />Banh Mi PhuongThe thực đơn at Banh Mi Phuong is wider than the Banh Mi Queen’s, which literally runs lớn three sandwiches. At Banh Mi Phuong there are loads more options, including a burger. Prices vary, but on average it’s a slightly more expensive sầu 25,000 dong for a sandwich — still less than £1 and only a little over $1. There are also a lot more members of staff making sandwiches & waiting tables — it’s just a bigger operation, in a more central area of town, with lots more customers, và of course the famous Anthony Bourdain stamp of approval. I’m not saying this is better or worse than Madam Khanh’s smaller và more intimate establishment (her shop was also really busy!) but personally I preferred the simplicity of the Banh Mi Queen’s shop and thực đơn.

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Anyway, baông xã at Banh Mi Phuong the New Zealander & I decided to split three sandwiches so we could try more flavours. I made sure we ordered a mixed meats banh mi to compare to Madam Khan’s, but we also had a beef & omelette banh ngươi and a chicken sandwich.

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I focused on the mixed baguette since that’s the classic banh mày recipe that Hoi An & Banh Mi Phuong are famous for. It was meaty, salty, sweet và light, with less crunchy papaya than Madam Khanh’s. It was undeniably delicious, but in my opinion while it was a great sandwich, it didn’t stand up khổng lồ the Banh Mi Queen’s. The bread at Banh Mi Phuong is flakier but the banh mi I tried had less sauce, less egg, & I’m afraid khổng lồ say slightly less flavour. Banh Mi Phuong’s baguette was also less spicy (I asked for medium so if you lượt thích it spicy, go for hot) and the sauce was sweeter, but had less of the delicate Vietnamese flavour combination that makes a banh mày so incredible.

Don’t get me wrong — the sandwiches at Banh Mi Phuong are a taste sensation. But for me they didn’t quite live up lớn the hype & I wonder if its popularity và the volume of sandwiches they now produce has caused a dip in quality.

Banh Mi Lanh

This one was always going to be the wild thẻ. It’s not as famous as Madam Khanh’s or Banh Mi Phuong by a long way. And unlượt thích both of the better known banh mày shops, Banh Mi Lanh doesn’t have an indoor restaurant area — it’s literally a stall on the roadside, although they vì chưng have a couple of plastic stools on the pavement if you want to sit down. It’s also a little outside of the main old town area. It’s located on Cua Dai Street, but the easiest way khổng lồ find it is probably khổng lồ navigate to lớn Nam Quang Pagoda, aka Nam Quang Tu. Banh Mi Lanh is set up just outside the gates. 

Even though I visited at the odd time of 5pm, Banh Mi Lanh was mobbed by locals & doing a roaring trade, which I took to be a good sign.

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" data-medium-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304-300x232.jpg" data-large-file="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304.jpg" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-600" src="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304.jpg" alt="Banh Mi Lanh Hoi An Vietnam" width="1000" height="772" srcset="https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304.jpg 1000w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304-300x232.jpg 300w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304-768x593.jpg 768w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304-370x285.jpg 370w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304-260x200.jpg 260w, https://nhlhockeyshopuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_5304-87x67.jpg 87w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" />Banh Mi LanhThe baguette from Banh Mi Lanh was the crunchiest I’d yet encountered, with spreadable homemade-looking pate, rather than sliced. The focus of this banh ngươi was on processed meats. The sliced pork was basically all fat, which I enjoyed. Even though I asked for medium khổng lồ spicy heat levels, there was hardly any bite khổng lồ this sandwich — far less so than the other two I sampled. Like Madam Khanh’s, this banh ngươi cost 20,000 dong.

Overall, although this was an undeniably great sandwich, it was not as satisfying or flavourful as the others I tried. 

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The verdict: the best banh mi in Hoi An

The crown goes to Madam Kkhô giòn the Banh Mi Queen. Queen of the Vietnamese sandwich và queen of my heart.