Bánh mì is a traditional Vietnamese dish that has always sounded delicious to me. The thought of crispy baguettes stuffed with meat and veggies makes me weak in the knees. Since I’d never tried it before, going to Bánh Mì Saigon checked something off my bucket list. I was skipping from excitement as I made my way through the roads of Ang Mo Kio to find the spot.
You’ll need to walk through a hawker centre and eventually, you’ll spot an evident red aura. Amidst all the red paper lanterns, the words Bánh Mì Saigon peek out. Situated in a secluded spot, it shares space with a Vietnamese mini-mart selling traditional tidbits and snacks.
I first realised that the food is available only for takeaway. I examined the menu which was initially confusing as the items were listed in Vietnamese. I couldn’t immediately spot the faded descriptions in English beneath them. But once I did, it wasn’t hard choosing my first bánh mì.
It was fascinating to watch the assembling process of the sub through the glass box. It also gave me a chance to observe the wide variety of fillings and toppings that go into this Vietnamese dish.
What I tried at Bánh Mì Saigon
My first choice was the Bánh Mì Thịt (S$7.90) with cold-cut pork ham as its main meat filling. It also had the words “special great bánh mì” underneath it so how could I not go for that? There were 13 bánh mì options to choose from, so I took a while to decide on the second one. I finally landed on the Bánh Mì Gà Xé Phay (S$8.90) which came with salt-baked, hand-pulled chicken.
Although their sign states the waiting time to be between 15-35 minutes, I waited for only about seven. This was perhaps since it was a slow, weekday afternoon. I was still ravenous and dug into it as soon as I got home.
The Bánh Mì Gà Xé Phay had colours popping out, so it caught my eye first. It had red capsicum, finely sliced carrots, cucumbers, hand-pulled chicken, and a whole lot of spring onions.
The chicken was bright red as a result of some marination, almost giving the visual of chicken tikka. There were also a few green chillis scattered within the baguette which was balanced by refreshing cucumbers and parsley. The capsicums and carrots gave the dish a crunchy texture and went well with the soft, spiced chicken. The crispy, buttered baguette brought it all together.
I then pounced on the Bánh Mì Thịt to check if it was worthy of its “special great bánh mì” title. Aside from the carrots, capsicums, cucumbers, parsley and spring onions, there were three different types of cold-cut hams.
The quantity of meat was a lot more, so the veggies didn’t shine as much in comparison to the previous dish. If you take your time to chew on it, you can distinguish between the different types of hams. There was also a peppery and sweet jam slathered on the sides of the baguette which really gave the Bánh Mì Thịt a distinct taste— in a good way. The pork floss on top was a bonus which added to its flavour game.
It was also surprisingly convenient to eat, even for a messy eater like me. The baguettes were sturdy and did not crumble from the weight of the filling which was quite generous. They come in easy-to-carry yellow paper bags so you can have it on-the-go too.
Their menu has some variety. Other sandwiches you can go for are Bánh Mì Xίu Mại (pork meatballs, S$8.90), Bánh Mì Nem Nướng (grilled meat, S$8.90), Bánh Mì Phá Lấu Heo (mixed pork, S$9.90), Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng (BBQ pork, S$8.90) and much more. Their newest item, Bánh Mì Bò Lá Lốp (S$10.90), has sweet, fragrant beef so that might be worth checking out too. Their options for add-on toppings include Ham (S$2.50), Cheese (S$2.50), Egg (S$2), Xiu Mai (S$3), Pork Skin (S$3), Pâté (S$2), and other Meat (S$3.50).
Your taste of Vietnam doesn’t end with just a bánh mì, there are also drinks and sides available! Choose from options like Trà Sữa Thái Đỏ (iced red milk tea, S$3.80), Cà Phê Đen Đá (Vietnamese iced dark coffee, S$4.50), and Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Vietnamese iced milk coffee, S$4.50). For sides, they offer two items— Xôi Mặn (Vietnamese sticky rice, S$8.90) and Gỏi Cuốn (spring rolls, S$8.90).
I was filled with a warm sense of satisfaction after finishing the meal. The portions are large and will have you feeling full for a good period of time. Interestingly, I favour the Bánh Mì Gà Xé Phay over their signature Bánh Mì Thịt. I usually go for the ones with more spice, so this was no surprise. The marinated chicken also gave this dish a flavour kick that I really enjoyed. But if you’re someone who prefers meatier subs, then I would recommend their Bánh Mì Thịt. It was stacked so full with cold-cut hams that it was hard to ensure they didn’t slip out.
I’m super glad to have finally tasted this Vietnamese street food, and it was exactly how I imagined it to be. Bánh Mì Saigon does live up to the hype of its positive reviews, as many netizens describe it to be their go-to place for bánh mì in the city. I would recommend it to anyone craving a sub sandwich, as the Vietnamese twist packs a good deal of flavour. If you’re in the area, it’s worth taking a detour for, so put this one on your list!
Expected damage: S$3.50 – S$11 per pax
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