Their subs are freshly baked in-house, and the mouth-watering smell wafts out into the lanes of Central. They’re packed generously with coriander, cucumber, spring onion and pickled veg, as well as optional fresh chilli, along with the four varieties of cold-cut fillings. The bread had a beautiful buttery flavour, and each bite was a moreish mixture of sweet pickled veg, with the meats then coming to the foreground, followed by a hit of herby freshness. Despite the meat-heavy assortment, it was a well-balanced ratio of meat to veg to bread, and the frequent kick of chilli made it perfect for our palates. This was a light and flavourful yet filling banh mi to get us happily through the day. We were all impressed by the incredible value; if you pair it with a Vietnamese coffee (cold or hot), it’s only an additional 12 bucks!
Price per sandwich: $48
Verdict: Our ideal everyday lunch sandwich
Foodie rating: ☆☆☆☆
22 Li Yuen Street East, Central, 2328 9699
Made from the Vietnamese chef’s mama’s recipe, you’ve got pork belly slices, headcheese, sheets of pork tendon and pork floss, along with creamy chicken liver pâté, homemade mayonnaise, pickled veg, cucumber and coriander, which all amounts to just the right balance of crunchy, soft and creamy perfection. A spattering of specially sourced Vietnamese chillies adds an aromatic jab that’s light and playful yet still memorable. Their bread is crunchy, with a thin top layer that leads into a soft interior that’s easy on the soft palate. You can absolutely taste the love that goes into this sandwich. They also serve on-the-go Vietnamese iced coffee in returnable glass bottles to tame those taste buds post-banh mi.
Price per sandwich: $88
Verdict: Looks the part and is worth every penny of the price
Foodie rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
16 Wing Fung Street, Wanchai, 2455 2499
This boorishly monikered establishment isn’t exactly our favourite, but it’s already endured a couple years on the Wanchai scene. They don’t serve a cold-cut version for lunch but instead offer a lone lemongrass pork variety with a pâté smear and the usual pickled veg and coriander. This sarnie appeared light on the mayo but was still soggy. The only flavour punching through came from the strongly pickled carrot and daikon. They have their bread made by a factory using rice flour, giving it a light and soft consistency that was also unfortunately on the bland side. In addition, Cóm Bánh Mì was at a disadvantage given the different style of filling compared to the other contenders. Price-wise, it was quite decent for a HK sandwich.
Price per sandwich: $60
Verdict: A banh mi that’s as tasteless as the name on the door
Foodie rating: ☆☆
28 Tai Wong Street East, Wanchai, 2528 9131
Cô Thành is owned by Nguyen Thi Thành, aka the Lunch Lady in Saigon, famed for her appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and renowned for her noodle dishes and banh mi. The Hong Kong branch is run by her first student, Brian Woo, and the ingredients are all made from scratch – from the baguette, to the sausage, to the pâté. Chock-full of four different meat varieties, the strongest flavour was from the overpowering pâté, but the herbs and pickled daikon didn’t come through in the end. The tangy sauce was a bit heavy-handed and left the bread oversaturated, so it had trouble holding up all the fillings. The baguette had a lovely flavour on its own, but we wish the pâté power had been dialed down a bit so that we could have fully enjoyed the combination of elements in this one.
Price per sandwich: $88
Verdict: We were all quite surprised that we didn’t like this one more.
Foodie rating: ☆☆☆
2–4 Kau U Fong, Sheung Wan, no phone
Alternative takes on the classic banh mi
Bahn Mi Bakery in Kowloon City is well worth the MTR ride, boasting 19 banh mi varieties including confit duck leg ($128), beef stew in tomato sauce ($92) and portobello mushroom with blue cheese ($88).
With outlets in Central and Wanchai, Seoul Bros do a Korean banh mi with kimchi and aioli ($48).