PW’s Guide to Banh Mi

Hoagies - of a sort - on a budget.

By Tim McGinnis
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Sep. 22, 2009

Share this Story:

Photo by Michael Persico

Thanks to last-minute agreement, the gaping wound in our fair city’s budget has stopped hemorrhaging. But let’s not forget that we were this close to Mad Max -style urban decay so it’s not appropriate for the few left with expendable income to blow tons of it at restaurants serving “combava lime gelee” or “versawhip marshmallows.” We need to eat cheaply, and no nourishing, filling, tasty dish is simpler and easier on the budget than the banh mi.

If You Don’t Speak the Language

The Italian Market’s claustrophobia-inducing Café Nhu y (802 Christian St. 215.925.6544) is smaller than Joey Vento’s sense of empathy, but its banh mi bi—made with pulled pork, shredded carrots, cilantro, jalapeños and a fishy Vietnamese “aioli” on a Sarcone’s roll—is big on taste. U H

If You Dig Tofu

Brave the white folks with dreads playing hacky sack in Clark Park and head down to Fu Wah Mini Market (810 S. 47th St. 215.729.2993). Its spicy “veggie hoagie” with pickled daikon, crunchy carrot, jalapeños, hot sauce, cracked black pepper and tofu plump with marinade on a toasted roll made our 50 Must-Eats list, but be warned: If you’re more of a meat-eater, the in-your-face ’fu might be a bit overwhelming. U H C

If You Like It Dirty

We at Field Guide are admittedly sandwich freaks, and we’re in love with Ba Le Bakery and Restaurant (606 Washington Ave. 215.389.4350) and its amazing “special combination” banh mi. Made with pig parts, it’s pork roll on top of layers of ham resting on layers of roast pork caressed by a rich pork pate topped with your typical banh mi accoutrements on a house-baked baguette; it made us happier than a pig in shit. U B

If You Love Lemmy

There are many reasons to like Royal Tavern (937 E. Passyunk Ave. 215.389.6694): local craft beer, friendly people, the good chance you’ll hear Motörhead blasting from the speakers at any given moment and, of course, the food. The sweet potato banh mi (dinner only) made with bibb lettuce, crispy jicama, pickled daikon, shredded carrots, jalapeños and … wait for it … cilantro aioli served with a side of fries is a grand addition to their already dynamic bar menu. H A

If You’re Going Shopping

At the Hoa Binh Plaza on Washington Avenue, you can pick up a lime tree, the new DVD from your favorite Vietnamese pop trio and a pork banh mi at Nam Son (1601 Washington Ave. 215.545.4067). The sweet and spicy BBQ pork is cooled by daikon, carrot, green bell pepper and cucumber then spiced up again by everyone’s favorite hot sauce, Sriracha. U B P

If You’re a Sandwich Hunter

The not-on-the-menu banh mi at May’s Gourmet Café & Deli (1845 Christian St. 215.545.1052) is almost as elusive as Michael Vick in his heyday. Made with ham, pork roll and a rich pork pate and topped with cucumber, carrots, daikon and cilantro on a crispy baguette-like hoagie roll, it’s worth tracking down and making it part of your team. U B C

Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend


Comments 1 - 8 of 8
Report Violation

1. Anonymous said... on Sep 23, 2009 at 09:43AM

“Sorry to say, but after much anticipation, we found the Banh Mi at Fu Wah to be one dimensional, not so spicy and well, sort of sad. It's kind of like an adventure if you've never left your room. So-so tofu, spare veggies, soggy bun. Maybe the PW foodies were just tired and hungry.”

Report Violation

2. Jeff said... on Sep 23, 2009 at 12:19PM

“What about QT Vietnamese Hoagie?”

Report Violation

3. DOK said... on Sep 23, 2009 at 02:28PM

“Jeff said it all, the Banh Mi at QT are the best in the city. Especially the lemon-grass tofu hoagie!!!”

Report Violation

4. C3 said... on Sep 24, 2009 at 10:25AM

“I just moved here last year and (being half Vietnamese) I am SO excited there are SO many Banh Mi options up here! It's healthy, cheap and yummy! What more could you want! :)”

Report Violation

5. bb said... on Sep 24, 2009 at 01:58PM

“I would classify the bread at Nhu Y as a baguette. Or maybe a skinny hoagie roll.”

Report Violation

6. Neighbor said... on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:12PM

“Wow, the tofu Banh Mi at Fu Wah is one of my favorites in the whole city. Always fresh and loaded up with fixin's. I've had better Chicken Banh Mi in south Philly, but the tofu really can't be beat. And "with everything" gets you the spiciest jalapenos I've ever tasted - a lip burning good time. A soggy bun at Fu Wah could only mean one thing: you called in your order and even though they said it would be ready in 10min. you didn't pick it up until 20min. later and by the time you actually ate it the sandwhich had been ready for over 30min. I don't know a soul around the area who doesn't love these.”

Report Violation

7. lawngirl said... on Feb 19, 2010 at 12:09PM


Report Violation

8. Anonymous said... on Feb 2, 2013 at 10:03AM

“This post is quite late, however I just want to put this out there -- QT is NOT the best bahn mi, by far. Ba Le is pretty good.. but I'm still searching for "the one".”


(HTML and URLs prohibited)