Can’t believe it has been nearly two years since I was last in Vietnam and I have to admit (without shame), that I often day dream about the astonishingly spectacular Banh Mi from the charming and seriously freck’n talented Mrs Phoung in Hoi An. Not only does this lady know how to balance and WOW you with flavours, she is so humble and just down right lovely!
So how did I manage to stumble across this national treasure?
Well in typical Terase style, I was chatting to a guy who was perched on the stool next to me (whilst we both devoured some amazing little char- grilled pork skewers cooked on the side of the street). And he was telling me with a sparkle in his eyes and much hand waving about THE best Bahn Mi ever AND it was less that 500m way! To be honest, he had me with the animated hand waving, but when he added that since discovering the shop 3 days ago he had been back at least twice each day! I just knew this was soooooo going to be my kinda place. Armed with a very basic hand drawn map in hand …….. off I trotted to find me some Banh Mi!
Follow this street to the end of the road and look for the line outside the shop
So there are a few tell tale signs I look for when I am travelling and seeking out a true local hang out that the locals love and has not become ‘touristy’. Firstly there is a line of locals out the door all happy chatting away whilst they wait. This is important for heaps of reasons, but mostly because it kind of proves this local favourite is part of their daily routine and they are happy to wait for their daily fix. Secondly, I am usually the only one lining up that is not a local! These two little tips have never failed me, and Mrs Phoung’s ticked both these boxes big time and once again provide my little theory is spot on!
All the ingredients are fresh, local and homemade by Mrs Phoung and her family. Mrs Phoung gets up at 3am (as she has done for the last 22 or so years) to prepare all the ingredients for the Banh Mi fresh each day. The fluffy on the inside roll and perfectly golden and crispy crust is worthy of a chefs hat on its own. These lovely rolls travel all of about 10m from the bakery around the corner and are kept ‘just warm’ over a little open fire wood oven and only cut open to order.
Perfectly perfect bread rolls are just one of the many reasons why Mrs Phoung’s is the best Banh Mi EVER!
THEN there is the filling OH MY GOD LORD the fillings! The pork terrine is sliced fresh to order, the duck liver pate deserves a nomination for the National Peace Prize, plus there is the braised and cured pork THEN the flavour packed cooking liquid from the braised pork that has been reduced and pimped with flavour and heavenly OMGs all round! And we mustn’t forget the mayonnaise and all those gorgeous fresh from the garden that morning herbs, crunchy cucumber and juicy tomato. Seriously, I tell you, this really is a parting of the red sea, storm clouds disappearing, sun shining, choir singing moment of foodie heaven.
Mrs Phoung Banh Mi really is something else and worth a trip to Hoi An from the four corners of the globe!
If you find yourself in Hoi An, make it your sole mission to swing by Mrs Phoung’s shop for her Banh Mi …….. you can thank me later! Oh and tell her I said hi, and give a big hug from me!
What are some of your favourite travel food stories?