Christina’s Headquarters held an extremely important, once in a life time event on the 24th of March, 2017. What was this event, you ask? A banh mi blind taste test! Here’s what happened:
But first, what is Banh Mi?
Banh mi is a typical breakfast dish in Vietnam made essentially of bread and various types of filling. Banh mi lovers can thank the French colonists for introducing their delicious baguette to the country, however since then, the Vietnamese have completely made it their own.
The size of the banh mi we enjoy these days is shorter than the typical French baguette as well, and the types of fillings used are endless. Some of these include pork belly, roasted pork, grilled pork, meatballs, different kinds of Vietnamese sausages, omelet, fish meat, cheese, pâté, homemade mayonnaise, and of course various veggies such as pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, coriander, onions etc. It makes sense that the name of the banh mi depends on the type of filling, ie: banh mi Pate would mean a banh mi with a filling of pate, banh mi thit nuong contains grilled pork inside, and banh mi ga has chicken.
A good banh mi has a combination of many things – fresh bread that is crunchy, delicious fillings, and fresh veggies with a nice spicy and savory sauce. You can find many different banh mi vendors around the city, literally hundreds of them, but for our experiment, we tried many different sandwiches and came up with a list of the top five vendors in the city. It was hard for us to narrow it down to five but our subjects did all the work.
We wanted our Christina’s guests to experience the varied tastes of banh mi served throughout the city. The five top locations chosen according to our… “expertise” are Banh Mi Bay Ho, Quan Chay Thoi Ke, Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, Banh Mi Thit Nuong, and Banh Mi Heo Quay Lien Thai.
We did not let our guests know where we bought their banh mi, to avoid tainting their unbiased opinions. We cut up each banh mi into a few pieces (so as to not bloat our participants), and marked each piece with a numbered flag stuck on a toothpick (to know which is which). We also instructed the participants to take a big gulp in between bites and sandwiches. On a survey, we then asked participants a few questions and here is the…
It was a close call! Just kidding. One sandwich clearly outnumbered the rest and there was also a poor loser, but you will have to read on to see the results. Here are the rankings in ascending order:
In 5th place: Banh Mi Heo Quay Tran Dinh Xu
I have to mention this even though nobody voted this as their favorite. The fillings include roasted pork with crunchy skin, pickled carrot and radish, cucumber, and herbs. The reason the guests did not like this combination is because it is spicy and also quite sour. However, it is still one of the top five banh mi places you can find in the city so you can say that it is the worst of the best. That makes sense, right? Locals really do love this one, as do we, so here it the location if you want to try it yourself: 95 – 97 Tran Dinh Xu, Ward. Nguyen Cu Trinh, District 1.
In 4th place: Banh Mi Bay Ho
According to the results of our survey, the banh mi served here is not only easy to eat but also very aromatic. This banh mi has a filling of pork, pâté, homemade butter, cucumber, and vegetables such as pickled cucumber and coriander. This combination creates a very delicious taste. However, spice was a factor here, and our foreign guests had a tough time adapting to it. Most guests enjoyed the filling and the sauce more than the crunchy bread.
The address of this place is 23 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. You should definitely give it a go and it is worth mentioning that this vendor has a rating of 8.1 out of 10 from foody.vn which is a community of foodies rating their favorite places throughout the country.
In 3rd place: Quan Chay Thoi Ke
This is the vegetarian banh mi! The filling includes sliced vermicelli doused in rice powder, wheat gluten that serves as a meat substitute, and a special sauce with a secret recipe made from salt, water, and… other stuff. This is literally the only ingredients we were told because this sauce is a “secret recipe.” Most of the guests really like this banh mi because it tastes light yet delicious and once again the filling was the favorite. A cool fact is that the guests had no idea that this was a vegetarian banh mi! Some subjects really liked the sauce because they think it went well with the fillings.
Address: 829 Le Hong Phong, Ward 12, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City.
In 2nd place: Banh Mi Huynh Hoa
This place is known by many local people and tourists alike and for good reason! The subjects favored many aspects of this banh mi, and not just the filling. The bread was a huge deciding factor too. The filling inside this one includes pork and different kinds of Vietnamese sausages, pate, vegetables, and herbs. This banh mi also has a unique savory taste.
Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng, Ben Thanh Ward, Ho Chi Minh City.
*Drum roll!!* FINALLY THE BEST BANH MI AWARD GOES TO: Banh Mi Thit Nuong 37
Located in alley number 37 of Nguyen Trai, Banh Mi Thit Nuong (grilled pork banh mi) is very popular for its delicious grilled pork and the amazing sauce – once again, the recipe is a secret. You can smell the banh mi here from a long distance before you enter the alleyway as the smell of grilled pork wafts its way towards you. When it came to our subjects, none of them gave a bad review. They were totally impressed by literally everything about this banh mi – the bread, filling, and sauce. Some even asked for seconds!
Address: 37 Nguyen Trai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
So there you have it, guys! The results of our super scientific banh mi blind taste test. The clear winner is Banh mi Thit Nuong 37 – outranking all the others by miles. If you love the filling more than the bread (like 100% of our guests), then this is where you should go. There are many types of fillings for you to choose from: grilled pork, roasted pork, omelet, cheese, Vietnamese sausages, salted shredded pork, fried fish meat, and of course a handful of pickled veggies like cucumber, carrot, daikon, onions, etc..
It will be like a flavor explosion in your mouth! Make sure to try these guys and all the others mentioned in this article and let us know your favorite. If you have any ideas on what other blind taste tests we can do, tell us in the comments and we’ll make it happen. You can also join us!