“Bành mí” is the Vietnamese phrase for French bread, specifically a baguette. It’s also the name for a multilayered sandwich, best eaten while standing on the streets of Saigon. If you don’t have a trip coming up, satisfy your cravings at one of the New York restaurants listed below. They’re all cheaper than plane fare. By Jessica Allen.
Bành Mí Saigon
Since 1989, Bành Mí Saigon has been serving its take on the Vietnamese sandwich in Chinatown, and what a take it is. The bành mí here begin with a gently toasted baguette. On top of that goes a layer of mayo, hot peppers, daikon, cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumber, and meats, including beef, pork, or chicken. A veggie version is also available. The miniscule space might leave something to be desired, but of course you’re not going there for the atmosphere.
Bành Mí Zòn
At Bành Mí Zòn, the bread crinkles when you bite into it, while the pâté oozes decadently. As if that weren’t nice enough, this East Village restaurant also sticks shredded pork floss, mayo, and a terrine made from ham and head cheese onto its bành mí zòn. It’s a classic, and worthy of the restaurant’s own name. You can also get a bành mí with sardines, with tofu and mushrooms, with pork patties, or with coconut curry beef. The Vietnam-born owners spent a year mastering their art in the home country, and it shows.
Few good things came out of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, but one of them was surely bún-ker. This Vietnamese restaurant near where Brooklyn becomes Queens (and vice versa) began life as Ridgewood’s Fish and Ship Seafood Co. Flooded and all but destroyed, the warehouse reopened as a restaurant. Today it makes a mean bành mí, including a crispy flounder with pickled garlic tartar sauce, crispy shallots, scallions, dill, and peanuts (pictured), or a lemongrass pork with homemade Vietnamese ham and pork pâté.
Co Ba, named after the women who run neighborhood food stalls in Vietnam, has six varieties of bành mí on the menu. The bành mí thit (pictured) offers grilled honey plum-glazed pork, pâté, daikon, carrots, and cilantro, with jalapeños on the side. Not so into the meat? No problem: the bành mí cha ca includes fish covered in mayo, jalapeños, housemade pickles, onion, and dill. Try the housemade limeade—lime juice freshly squeezed and mixed with kumquat, mint, and syrup—too.
JoJu, in Elmhurst, specializes in modern Vietnamese sandwiches, refining and updating the tastes and flavors for the 21st century. Take, for example, the vegetarian ham, which features mock ham made from tofu, or the beef bulgogi, which includes thinly sliced rib eye and kimchi. Still another version boasts Japanese slow-braised pork belly. Purists need not fear: the classic comes with pâté, ham, and headcheese. For $1.25 you can add a fried egg to any sandwich.