Banh Mi Saigon on Victoria Drive is a relatively new contender in the forever ongoing “which is best” banh mi debate (if Vancouver could ever have a great sandwich discourse, it would be over this simple Vietnamese wonder). Despite many worthy competitors, the sandwiches at this unassuming East Van corner spot off Jones Park are well worth the jaunt up the hill.
The sign of a quality banh mi begins with the bread, which is properly an airy baguette of the style appropriated by the Vietnamese (during the French colonial period). Its blend of rice and wheat flour gives it a uniquely crunchy, toothsome crust. Banh Mi Saigon has their bread game dialled, baking the stuff in-house and serving it fresh. I suggest their fully loaded banh mi dac biet (a house special) with ham, headcheese, meatball, Vietnamese meatloaf, cucumber, carrot, pickled radish, cilantro, a smear of spiced pate and a drizzle of soy. The crusty bread harmonizes and synthesizes the generous medley of cold-cuts — they don’t call it “special” for nothing.
It’s nearly impossible to eat a good banh mi sandwich without feeling a bit like Hansel or Gretel, leaving behind you a light dusting of baguette crust with every bite. Relish in the delicious mess, and if/when you commit to follow the crumbs back, be sure to get there early as they sometimes run out of bread well before closing time!
Banh Mi Saigon | 5397 Victoria Drive | EAST VAN | 7am – 7pm