Banh mi 101 - 7 interesting filling concepts that deserve a try

Though meat, ham, pickled vegetables, and sauce are typical ingredients in a Banh mi, a long list of unfamiliar fillings will guarantee you an unforgettable cuisine experience in Vietnam.

Photo by Ben Lei / Unsplash

Banh mi (bánh mì) has long been recognized as one of the Vietnamese culinary culture's most significant and distinctive aspects. Most Vietnamese people, from adults to children, enjoy this cuisine, which can be found throughout the country. Meat/ham, pickled vegetables, and sauce are typical ingredients in a Banh mi.

The variety of Banh Mi fillings has grown since the beginning; depending on regional preferences, a long list of Banh Mi versions with unfamiliar but delicious fillings has been created. The suggestions below are worth considering if you plan a trip to Vietnam.

Bánh mì chả cá  (Banh mi Vietnam with fried fish cakes)

“Bánh mì chả cá" is a specialty of Nha Trang City (Khanh Hoa Province). The bread is similar to the usual Banh mi, but the filling is different. "Chả cá" means fish cakes; fish filets are grounded, marinated with fish sauce and other seasonings. The combination is pounded to create a chewy texture, then fried till turning golden brown.

Banh mi Vietnam with fried fish cakes and unique sauce - a superb combination of flavors. Photo by 

"Bánh mì chả cá" is accompanied by coriander, cucumber, pickled vegetables, and homemade fish sauce (made of original fish sauce, sugar, lots of garlic, and chilies). The combination of savory fried fish cakes, garlicky sauce, and sweet-and-sour pickled vegetables creates a mouthwatering flavor from the very first bite.

In Nha Trang City, "Bánh mì chả cá" can be found at street food stalls or local eateries for reasonable prices ranging from 15.000VND to 25.000VND ($0.70-$1.07). Herewith are some recommendations by locals for a good "Bánh mì chả cá":

Bánh mì chả cá Nha Trang

  • Address: 27A Lê Thành Phương Street, Nha Trang City, Khánh Hoà Province.
  • Opening hour: 6:00am - 11:00am

Bánh canh Bà Thừa

  • Address: 10A Phan Chu Trinh Street, Xương Huân Ward, Nha Trang City, Khánh Hoà Province.
  • Opening hour: 6:00am - 12:00pm, 2:00pm - 7:00pm

In Ho Chi Minh City, there's a popular place to grab a delicious "Bánh mì chả cá." This is a local Banh mi Vietnam stall located at No.12, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1 (opposite Ho Chi Minh City Television), open from morning to evening.

Bánh mì bột lọc (Banh mi Vietnam with dumpling)

"Bánh mì bột lọc" is a strange but interesting combination. Photo by

"Bột lọc" is a type of dumpling. The bases are made of tapioca starch. Simmered shrimp and pork are wrapped carefully inside. "Bột lọc" is then steamed or boiled until transparent and chewy. The dumpling is already a staple of central Vietnamese cuisine; having it with banh mi is an upgraded version. In the middle area of Vietnam, locals tend to have cuisines that fill their bellies for full hard-working days.

"Bánh mì bột lọc" is an affordable option that is still delicious; prices range from 10.000VND - 25.000VND (~$0.50 - $1.07). The bread crust is crispy, the inside dumpling is chewy and savory. A simple sprinkle of chilies, coriander, and sweet-and-sour fish sauce can completely transform a dish.

"Bánh mì bột lọc" is a popular choice for local workers and can be easily found at food vendors along the shore or on the street.

Đà Nẵng City

  • Address: 73 Huỳnh Thúc Kháng Street, Hải Châu District, Đà Nẵng City or 02 Thành Thái Street, Cẩm Lệ District, Đà Nẵng City

Bánh mì dân tổ (Dan To Banh mi)

The unique filling of Banh mi dan to is made of familiar ingredients. Photo by zing. vn

"Bánh mì dân tổ" is unique from its name to the way it's made. "Dân tổ" is a word for calling night workers or "night owls". They are also regular customers of this food stall. The original "Bánh mì dân tổ" is located at the crossroads of Cao Thắng Street and Trần Nhật Duật Street, Hanoi, and is open from 3:00 am till sold out. Familiar ingredients such as ham, pork loaf, Pâté, sausage, beef jerky, eggs, and so on are mixed and stir-fried in a large pan with butter. The filling is complex, moist, and flavorful.

"Bánh mì dân tổ" has become famous among food reviewers and bloggers in the last few years. Some must queue at 1:00 am or 2:00 am to buy a banh mi.

  • Address: 32 Trần Nhật Duật Street, Đồng Xuân, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi (at the crossroads of Cao Thắng Street and Trần Nhật Duật Street)
  • Opening time: 3:00am - normally 7:00am
  • Price: 15.000VND - 25.000VND (~$0.70 - $1.07)

Bánh mì nem khoai (Banh mi Vietnam with Hanoi fried fermented pork and fries)

A strange version of banh mi Vietnam. Photo by Ăn sập Sài Gòn‌ ‌

"Nem chua rán" - fried fermented pork is popular street food in Hanoi. The fermented pork is primarily sweet, hardly tastes sour, and is deep-fried, then dipped in Hanoi chili sauce. This is a signature that is loved by both locals and tourists.

"Bánh mì nem khoai" is a combination of banh mi Vietnam, Hanoi's specialty and a Western snack (French fries). Fried fermented pork and fries are stuffed into a banh mi, then added chili sauce on top. The dish is simple, but the flavor is explosive. "Bánh mì nem khoai" is popular among students around Hương Viên Street, Hanoi, for its interesting concept, delicious flavor, and reasonable prices.

  • Address: No.8 Lane 28 Hương Viên Street, Đồng Nhân Ward, Hai Bà Trưng District, Hanoi
  • Opening hour: 6:00am - 7:30pm
  • Price: 25.000VND - 30.000VND (~$1.07 - $1.30)

Bánh mì bì (Banh mi Vietnam with shredded pork skin)

Bánh mì bì - a specialty of Saigon. Photo by

"Bì" ( shredded pork skin) is a familiar side dish in "Cơm tấm" (Saigon broken rice). Shredded pork skin and shredded pork meat are mixed and seasoned with a special ingredient called "thính" - powdered grilled rice.

"Bánh mì bì" is a signature of Saigon. Shredded pork skin is stuffed into a banh mi, sprinkled with vegetables, fresh chili, and sweet-and-sour fish sauce. "Bì" in a banh mi and "Bì" in a Cơm tấm are the best of both worlds, with similar but significant features. You are recommended to experience both two cuisines. "Bánh mì bì" is a convenient option for a typical local breakfast; for only 15.000VND ($0.70), you can enjoy the taste of Saigon.

Bánh mì Vân

  • Address: Alley 150, Nguyễn Trãi Street, Bến Thành Ward, District 1, HCMC
  • Opening hour: 6:00AM - 11:00AM

Bánh mì bì 172

  • Address: 172 Trần Hưng Đạo Street, Ward 7, District 5, HCMC
  • Opening hour: 6:00AM - 9:00AM, 2:00PM - 5:00PM (Closed on Sunday)

Bánh mì phá lấu (Banh mi Vietnam with stewed pork offal)

A savoury “Bánh mì phá lấu". Photo by Ánh Tuyết.

"Phá lấu" originated with the Chaozhou people. Pork meat and offal are well marinated with special spices, seasoning, then stewed for hours till tender, aromatic and luscious. The concentrated broth is kept for dipping or sprinkled upon the meat.

To meet the "grab and go" food demands of Saigonese, they transform "phá lấu" into a concept of banh mi filling; this invention, surprisingly, creates a superb cuisine that many locals enjoy.

A "bánh mì phá lấu" costs only from 20.000VND ($0.85) - a reasonable price for new experiences. There are some recommendations below from Saigonese to grab a delicious "bánh mì phá lấu":

Phá lấu Tâm Ký

  • Address: 823, Nguyễn Trãi Street, Ward 15, District 5, HCMC
  • Opening hour: 10:00am - 9:00pm

Bánh mì phá lấu Bà 6

  • Address: 190 Đoàn Văn Bơ Street, Ward 10, District 4, HCMC
  • Opening hour: 6:00am - 11:00am

Bánh mì sườn sụn (Banh mi Vietnam with grilled pork and pickled mustard greens)

"Bánh mì sườn sụn" is famous among food reviewers and bloggers. Photo by Instagram @foodholicvn

"Sườn sụn" is pork cartilage. The pork cartilage is well marinated with an old family recipe and grilled on charcoal. The grilled meat is juicy, flavorful, and has a distinctive smell. To balance the taste, pickled mustard greens are added to a banh mi. The owners pickle mustard greens by themselves, just sweet, sour, and salty enough to amplify the whole savor.

This banh mi food stall has a long, 40-year history and is favored by the locals. They have several locations for your convenience.

Bánh mì sườn sụn Bà Hường

  • Address:
  • 118B Nguyễn Thần Hiến Street, Ward 18, District 4, HCMC
  • 530 Nguyễn Văn Công Street, Ward 3, Gò Vấp District, HCMC
  • 202 Phan Đình Phùng Street, Ward 2, Phú Nhuận District, HCMC
  • Opening hour: 6:00am - 8:00pm