If you’re heading to Hoi An in Vietnam, it’s pretty much guaranteed that at some point, someone will direct you to Banh Mi Phuong—arguably the best banh mi in Hoi An. Banh Mi Phuong solidified its reputation when Anthony Bourdain, acclaimed chef and author, declared that Phuong’s banh mi was the best in the world. So you can understand why visiting Banh Mi Phuong was at the top of my ‘To do’ list while in Hoi An.
The banh mi is a culinary by-product of Vietnam’s French colonial past, a sandwich that fuses the famous crunchy French baguette with traditional Vietnamese fillings including various meats, slices of cucumber, carrot and radish, pâté, coriander and chilli. Snacking on a delicious banh mi is one thing that I have really missed since moving over to Perth (holler at me if you have any recommendations), particularly since I was so spoilt for choice in Melbourne!
Does Banh Mi Phuong have the best banh mi in Hoi An?
Here it is: my bold claim that the best banh mi in Hoi An is NOT Banh Mi Phuong. I’m not sure if my expectations were too high, but I definitely preferred other banh mis to the one that I had at Phuong’s. Perhaps, the overall quality has decreased slightly due to its popularity?
So where is the best banh mi in Hoi An? The answer, my friends, is at Banh Mi Lanh. Seriously, I’m salivating as we speak. While Banh Mi Phuong is located in the centre of town, Banh Mi Lanh is a nondescript street cart that is a little more out of the way on Cua Dai Street and more popular with locals than with tourists. One bite of the bread roll and you’ll instantly understand why this is the local favourite.
The runner-up in the banh mi stakes is Madame Khanh, another inconspicuous cart located on Tran Cao Van Street. I was told that locals don’t like Madame Khanh as much because they think the bread rolls are too oily, but I found that the sauce was slightly spicier, which is always a bonus in my books.
The best thing to do is to try all three places, pick your favourite and then frequent there every morning for a banh mi breakfast of champions. Bon appetite!
Note: a banh mi will cost between 10,000 and 20,000 Vietnamese Dong, depending on whether you get charged the ‘local’ or ‘foreigner’ price. Apparently, my Vietnamese language skills need a bit of work because I was still charged the ‘foreigner’ price!