We‘re on a quest to find the best banh mi in town. With so many Vietnamese restaurants around, it’s disappointing that for the past several years it‘s been difficult to find authentic banh mi amongst all the pho, rice noodles and spring rolls on the menu. That‘s all changed now with several recent exciting openings, and we‘ve carefully selected five top spots to curb your cravings. It’s time to give this Vietnamese sarnie the justice it deserves – let banh mi shine.
Big fan of Le Garcon Saigon in the Star Street precinct? You’ve got one more stop to hop. Le Petit Saigon next door, also by Chef Bao La, offers authentic bánh mì thịt, or pork banh mi ($88).
You know it’s good and gold when banh mi is the single item on the menu – so how good is it? Layered with pork belly slices, head cheese, pork four ways (tongue, cheek, tendon and ear) and pork floss, the crispy baguette takes your taste buds on a great adventure. The smooth spread of pâté, homemade mayonnaise and chilli sourced from Vietnamese farmland outside Ho Chi Minh City all add sparks to this Viet bread.
16 Wing Fung Street, Wanchai, 2455 2499
One of my favourite childhood memories is watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations food and travel show with my dad. The show featured Cô Thành owned by Nguyen Thi Thành aka The Lunch Lady in Saigon, who only serves one dish each day depending on what's fresh. I can still vividly recall this episode, capturing how she filled each bowl with a special broth – and filled her customers with contentment. Despite placing the noodles in the limelight, her banh mi is just as acclaimed. The crunchy loaf stuffed with delectable goodies is guaranteed to lure you into Viet’s vibrant culinary culture.
Can’t fly to Saigon for this? No worries, Cô Thành has just opened in HK right in our welcoming Sheung Wan ‘hood. The place is decorated with thoughtful, rustic details and features steel tableware. Be sure to pay a visit soon and grab a bite of the signature banh mi ($88) filled with meaty bits, house-made pâté and pickled daikon.
To ensure that customers get to taste the real Saigon deal, over 70 per cent of the ingredients are tasted and hand-picked by the Cô Thành team, not to mention that the baguette, pâté and sausage are all made from scratch. Local owner Brian Woo, the Lunch Lady’s first and only student, mastered his culinary skills after apprenticing in Vietnam for three years. Yes, the food here will transport you to Vietnam in no time at all.
2–4 Kau U Fong, Sheung Wan
Another restaurant serving only banh mi and drinks, Banh Mi Kitchen in Central promises a remarkable journey exploring the depths of this famous sandwich. Aussie owner Ryan Ching moved to Hong Kong after a sojourn in Ho Chi Minh City. His seriousness towards banh mi is manifested by how serious the team are in choosing the ingredients and carefully crafting the very reasonably priced banh mi ($44–52).
The bread is baked on site, and the scrumptious fillings come in five options (cold cuts, BBQ pork, lemongrass chicken, Vietnamese meatballs, tofu). The flavourful banh mi is freshened up with pickled carrot and daikon, spring onion, cucumber and coriander – you can also add a kick of chilli to wake up your palate. Pair it with some lotus tea or Vietnamese coffee and make your next lunch hour an even happier hour!
22 Li Yuen Street East, Central, 2328 9699
This banh mi joint in Kowloon City might be lesser known to HK Island dwellers, yet it’s worth the MTR ride. Boasting 19 banh mi varieties (you heard me), the place calls for repeat visits. The options include traditional Viet style ($62), sous-vide pork belly ($72), confit duck leg ($128), beef stew in tomato sauce ($92) and portobello mushroom with blue cheese ($88). To provide you with even more choices, choose the level of spiciness to add some fire (or not) to your comforting banh mi experience. Kowloon City might just do for a mini weekend getaway.
Beef stew banh mi (photo credit: @redbottomkills)
49 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City, 2360 2883
Another featured banh mi stop in Wanchai, Cóm Bánh Mì has been in the neighbourhood since 2015. Still highly popular, the small, cosy spot is often crowded during peak hours. The restaurant has a strong Vietnamese vibe, accentuated by the vibrant colours, exotic lanterns and Vietnamese artwork. The interior hints at the authenticity one can expect from the food as well.
Banh mi can be enjoyed on its own ($60), with a drink ($70) or with snacks like buttered chicken wings ($80). The featured banh mi on the lunch menu is lemongrass pork chop – the tender, juicy meat is fried to perfection without excess oil. Specially tailor-made by a bread factory, their bread is crafted using rice flour, giving it a unique, airy texture.
28 Tai Wong Street East, Wanchai, 2528 9131