If you ever been to Hoi An, or are a massive Anthony Bourdain fan, you probably looked at the title of this post and thought, "Who does she think she is?"
Am I actually re-reviewing a place Anthony Bourdain called "the best Bánh mì in Vietnam?" Yeah, I actually am.
It is pertinent to start this post with a fact that not a lot of people know - what Bánh mì actually means.
Despite popular belief, Bánh mì isn't a sandwich. Bánh mì is just a french baguette. It has nothing to do with the pork, cucumbers, carrots, spicy sauce, ect. that you associate with the sandwich. Bánh mì is just the bread part.
Because of that... a Bánh mì sandwich can be a lot of different things. Sometimes there is an egg. Sometimes there is pork. Sometimes the sandwich is just vegetables (those are the saddest days). Regardless, those are all Bánh mì.
At Banh Mi Phuong in Hoi An, Vietnam, the choice is yours. This is your MTO Bánh mì shop.
Be warned - if you show up to the place not really knowing what Bánh mì means, it can be confusing. The menu options range from 'Bánh mì Garlic' to 'Bánh mì Barbecue' to 'Bánh mì Egg'.... and you'll be sitting there thinking... these are extras in addition to the classic sandwich? Bánh mì Egg is a Bánh mì with an egg thrown on top?
No. Bánh mì is just bread, so Bánh mì Egg is an egg sandwich. Banh Mi Phuong throws veggies on all of the choices, but just so you know, if you order Banh Mi Bánh mì Garlic, that is exactly what you are going to get - a garlic sandwich.
Because of the place's popularity, the staff speaks english, so if you want a sandwich with garlic and meat, or egg and pâté, you can explain that and make it happen.
So ever since Tony visited Banh Mi Phuong and sung its praises, everyone from traveller bloggers to google maps itself have jumped don the Banh Mi Phuong bandwagon. The place is always crowded. All tourists make their pilgrimage to Banh Mi Phuong. Everyone is salivating, taking pictures, and exclaiming that it is the best Bánh mì they have ever eaten.
I am here to say... it is fine.
Banh Mi Phuong is nice because it has a lot of varieties and the food is served quickly... but other than that, it is standard fare. The bread is better than some, but the insides are truly nothing special.
I have been eating a lot of Bánh mì since arriving in Vietnam, and I have had better. When my cooking instructor told me I was about to go blind, he bought me a Bánh mì as a consolation prize for losing my sight. This one was actually life changing it was so good. The stall was somewhere in the general location of here. Closer to the street crossing of Lac Long Quan and Hai Ba Trung.
No, not every stall you find is going to be better than it... but some are. I can think of two that I found by pure chance, so I am sure there are dozens in every city.
Maybe Banh Mi Phuong has gotten worse in relation to its popularity. I doubt it. It is a pretty simple recipe and I don't think they would change it.
Worth the hype? No. This is a sandwich. If you are hungry and walk by, sure, go for it... but don't feel the need to go out of your way to get one.
I have no pictures. That, my friends, is the truest sign of something not being special. If I haven't lost the respect of everyone in the establishment by standing on a chair or walking around the restaurant holding a plate to photograph my food, it wasn't that good.
I think the entire thing can best be summed up by this review on Trip Advisor: