Travel like a local

Bánh mì 37


Popular stall for bánh mì which only options late afternoon. I arrived at 4.30pm and again just after 5pm on a Monday but there was no sign of the stall. Then I went on a Thursday at 6.30pm and had to wait for over 30 minutes, although I think the fact there's always a queue says more about their lack of efficiency and organisation than it does about their popularity. There were only a few people ahead of me in the queue.

I worked out that each banh mi takes them 2-3 minutes. It takes most stalls less than 30 seconds. The main problem is the size of the bbq for grilling the pork. It's tiny, so they're always waiting for the meat to be cooked.

It's worth noting that at the time of writing this, TripAdvisor (based on reviews almost exclusively by foreigners) rated it 4.5 / 5, while (almost exclusively Vietnamese users) rating it just 5.5 / 10. That level of difference is unusual so I translated the reviews on and found that many people were mentioning how rude the owner is. During my half an hour in the queue, I witnessed this for myself. She was rude and aggressive almost constantly. She shouted at a young Vietnamese couple who ended up leaving without getting any food (I couldn't understand the argument but it seemed like the owner was accusing the couple of pushing in, but I'm sure they didn't). I can only think that because the owner doesn't speak English, foreigners aren't subjected to her aggression, which explains the difference in review scores. Rudeness like the level I witnessed isn't acceptable for someone working with customers, but maybe the food is worth it...?

Sadly it wasn't anywhere near as nice as I was expecting. The meat wasn't particularly succulent (almost dry) or flavourful, although the lemongrass in the patties was an unexpected positive. It was a nice bánh mì but it's certainly nothing like the classic/traditional Vietnamese style. It's made with 5 small pork patties, some thinly sliced carrot, some kind of smokey bbq sauce, coriander, chilli, cucumber and probably some other bits.

I can't quite understand why almost every review on TripAdvisor is 5 stars, although I've learnt to ignore the scores on there as none of the reviews are from locals who know about the best Vietnamese food.

Overall rating... 6/10