Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a high chance you’ve heard of, or at least tried, the famed Banh Mi.
Think crusty baguette rolls slathered with pate and mayo before it’s packed with pickled vegetables, cilantro, fresh chillies and doused with seasoning. Let’s not forget the mighty serving of ham, chicken, beef or pork inside that makes for a quick, satisfying lunch.
While the sandwich has become one of the most iconic street foods in Vietnam, the history of the dish far outweighs its simple appearance.
During the first World War, bread was used as a way for the French to reinforce European superiority over the Vietnamese locals — it was impossible to grow wheat in Vietnam, and the cost of importing flour from France had made bread prices far higher than the average citizen could afford. This all changed when war broke out in Europe. French officials and soldiers that were stationed in Indochina were called back to assist with war efforts, which left the Vietnamese market flooded with a surplus of European products, all at discounted prices.
When the French left, Vietnamese in the south started to modify French dishes to include local ingredients: butter was replaced with mayonnaise, and expensive cold cuts made way for vegetables. Banh Mi became a dish everyone could afford.
The scrumptious sandwich only found its way to Singapore years later, and we’re more than happy to have it on our shores. Read on our hitlist of where to get the best Banh Mi in Singapore.
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Stepping into 233 Banh Mi is akin to stepping into a time portal — everything about the cosy eatery reminds us of those old-school, no-frills takeaway joints we used to patron when we were younger. Four Banh Mi options make up the entire menu here. Besides the traditional Banh Mi, diners can opt to have Chicken, Barbecue Beef or Tuna in their sandwich, all for a neat price of S$5.50. Each of the rolls are generously packed with tons of herbs and spices too, so if you’re one for a flavourful roll, you’ve come to the right spot.
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Le Café Vie5 is a quaint little Vietnamese cafe located in Paya Lebar, complete with rolls of Banh Mi, mains and snacks. While the bowls of pho proved to be a fantastic option for rainy days, we prefer to get the original Banh Mi, stuffed your choice of with stir-fried pork, chicken, or beef. Each are dressed with egg, pickled vegetables, herb leaves, and house chilli sauce.
Le Cafe Vie5 is also the only direct importer, supplier, roaster and brewer of coffee beans from Vietnam in Singapore, so apart from serving homemade coffee, they also sell a a variety of house roasted beans that’s sure to please any coffee connoisseur.
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Family-run Co Chung Restaurant was born out of a dream to bring recipes of home in Vietnam to Singapore, so you can trust that everything you have here is authentically Vietnamese. Besides the hearty bowls of noodles and crispy spring rolls, we love popping into the Plaza Singapura locale for a quick bite of their Traditional Vietnamese Sandwich. Think layers of pork pâté and fresh vegetables encased in a crunchy baguette bun — the perfect speedy, filling lunch if you’re in town.
We’re not even suggesting Moc Quan to those who are nearby UE Square Shopping Mall, we’re recommending everyone to make a trip down just for their Banh Mi. The Banh Mi experience at Moc Quan starts from the very beginning — they’ve imported a special oven and flour from Vietnam just to re-create a taste of the street food here in Singapore. Beef lovers will find themselves enamoured by the Bo Bi Let, a crispy yet fluffy baguette that’s stuffed with marinated sliced beef and egg while vegetarians can opt for the Banh Mi Op La, packed with an egg and tons of vegetables.
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Banh Mi Thit started out as an inconspicuous store in Geylang, but they’ve gone on to open a second storefront — this time in the bustling Tampines neighbourhood — after rising to fame with their Banh Mi. The Beef Banh Mi is one of the eatery’s bestsellers, and it’s not hard to see why. An order of it will see freshly baked baguettes slathered in a mixture of egg-based margarine and Banh Mi sauce, before it’s jam-packed with onions, cucumbers and thinly shaved beef. Other flavours here include chicken, ham, and pork.
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