Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich filled with a variety of flavourful ingredients, has become a popular street food in Singapore.
With its crispy baguette, savoury meat fillings, fresh herbs and vegetables, Banh Mi is a tasty and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed any time of day.
I remember walking down the streets of Vietnam and finding food carts on every motorbike-packed junction. On some food carts there would be baguettes stacked in glass cases, next to a single sandwich press.
If I were to ask for a Banh Mi to-go, the auntie would assemble the ingredients, toast the entire sandwich, and give it to me hot.
Finding that experience in Singapore is tough, because there are no food carts around.
If you are on the hunt for the best Banh Mi in Singapore, here are some of the top spots to check out: Bahn Appetit!
Banh Mi Saigon
505 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, Singapore 560505
Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Authentic Banh Mi Shop in Ang Mo Kio With A Vietnamese Minimart
Banh Mi Saigon is situated in an interesting location, at the corner of Blk 505 of Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, sharing space with a Vietnamese minimart which looks like it is stocked quite extensively.
I had the “special great” Banh Mi Thit ($6.90) filled with three different types of house-made Vietnamese hams, and that made a whole-lot of difference.
As I took the first bite, the first thing that left an impression was the mouthfeel – so much going on, such soft ham, so creamy pate, and all the refreshing crunchiness coming from the vegetables.
There was also some floss providing some sweetness, and margarine/mayonnaise somewhere within.
They didn’t overdo on the sauces as well, there was a touch of spiciness but you would still savour the flavours of the ham.
Read more at: Banh Mi Saigon (Ang Mo Kio)
Co Hai Banh Mi
359 Beach Road Singapore 199575,
Tel: +65 6291 6435
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Vietnamese Cafe with Dual Stores on Beach Road
Co Hai Banh Mi makes its own Banh Mi, and supply breads to other Vietnamese restaurants. Surely this is good enough reason to pay Co Hai Banh Mi at Beach Road (near Bugis) a visit.
Before you get a little confused, they actually run two shops along the same stretch – Co Hai Banh Mi at Unit 359 of Beach Road, and Pho Co Hai at Unit 349. Both shops have slightly varied offerings, but signatures remain the same.
Go for their signature item, Co Hai Baguette costs ($12). When you peel open the bread, expect to find a scrumptious mix of Chinese sausage, roasted BBQ pork, pork floss, pate, amidst the vegetables.
Each bite was a surprising sensation of salty, sweet, and sour. The different components packed in the sandwich also contribute to the juiciness. The taste I heard, was suited to fit Singaporeans’ palettes.
Read more at: Co Hai Banh Mi (Beach Road)
Joo Chiat Caphe
263 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427517
Opening Hours: 9am – 7pm (Tue – Sun), Closed Mon
East Side Muslim-Friendly Vietnamese Cafe with Banh Mi and Otah
The store’s main food offerings are Banh Mi and Otah, which I was initially quite bewildered with the pairing combination.
I dived straight to the Classic Chicken Cold Cut with Home Made Chicken Pate ($5.80), which has chicken cold cut ham, chicken pate spread and chicken meat floss sandwiched in freshly baked baguette.
The baguette had a chewy bite texture, complemented with crusty exterior and fresh flavours from pickled salad, coriander leaves and chillies. While its generally above average, I personally prefer my banh mi to have more distinctive savoury flavours coupled with sourish taste notes from pickled salad.
What left me a pleasant surprise was their fusion Mackerel Otah with Homemade Vietnamese Mayonnaise Banh Mi ($6.50).
While the combination seemed like a forced marriage, the coconutty creaminess and savoury notes from the mackerel otah managed to imbue a fuller-bodied flavour twist to the hearty staple.
Read more at: Joo Chiat Caphe (Joo Chiat)
Co Chung – Authentic Taste of Vietnam
Plaza Singapura #B2-20, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore 238839
Tel: +65 8876 8137
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Popular Vietnamese Eatery At Plaza Sing and Boat Quay
Named after its founder’s moniker “Aunty Chung”, Co Chung offers traditional appetisers, sandwiches, noodle soups, cakes, meat dishes, coffee and desserts.
Some of these street food items and desserts are therefore not commonly found in Singapore itself, and this truly differentiate Co Chung from the rest.
When it comes to Banh Mi, Co Chung serves different choices such as the Traditional Vietnamese (included with roasted pork belly, pate and cold cuts), Fried Eggs, Shredded Chicken, Fish Cake, to Meat Ball Sandwiches.
The Grilled Pork Sandwich or Banh Mi Thit Nuong is the most popular, a crusty baguette filled with layers of a special grilled pork, drizzled with scallion oil and sweet fish sauce, and dressed up with pickles, fresh cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, and cilantro.
Chili sauce is optional, so feel free to decide if you are ready for a punch of heat in your sandwich.
Read more at: Co Chung (Plaza Singapura)
81 Clemenceau Avenue UE Square #01-23 Singapore 239917
Tel: +65 6736 0123
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon – Sun) (Closed occasionally. Check Facebook for updates)
Made With Ingredients Hand-Carried from Vietnam
Few Vietnamese restaurants seem to be as dedicated as Moc Quan though, where baguettes for the banh mi are baked fresh daily, and owner Jeff Koh hand-carries fresh ingredients (about 100kg every 2 weeks) from Vietnam to Singapore.
Which is why they close for a day or two occasionally each month.
Jeff revealed his interesting background. He has a Vietnamese wife, lived there for 3 years and traded his dish washing and knife skills for recipes of street vendors as he believed that some of the best cooks are on the streets. Impressed with his dedication.
The best item was indeed the Banh Mi. I had the Bo Bit Tet which came with marinated sliced beef and egg.
The baguette was crisp on the outside, with a fluffy chewy texture, not too dry on the inside. Accordingly, the oven and flour used are brought in from Vietnam.
Read more at: Moc Quan (UE Square)
Banh Mi Thit by Star Baguette
543 Geylang Road, Singapore 389498
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Inexpensive Banh Mi Store From Geylang, Tampines and Whampoa
For Banh Mi lovers in Singapore, this Vietnamese eatery is one of those frequently talked about and featured.
The menu is straight-forward with six types on Banh Mi – Pork, Chicken, Ham, Beef, Egg or Pate, all priced at $5 each. Tip: you can add more fillings at a dollar more.
Accordingly, all the baguettes used are freshly baked daily in small batches by an in-house master baker, and some key ingredients are imported from their outlet in Vietnam.
To me, the lovely element was indeed its bread which was nicely warm, crusty (would give a “cccccrunch” if you eat it fresh) with an almost-fluffy interior.
I was slightly impartial to the beef which tasted a little plain in comparison, and I needed to drizzle some sauce over to add more oomph. For the price, I shouldn’t complain about the amount of ingredients, but I would add the dollar extra for more meat in future.
As the shop makes its own ham and pate in-house, you could go for either the Pork or Pate Banh Mi which would likely leave a better impression. The Pork Banh Mi came filled with ham, pork belly, pork hock slices, vegetables and their house-made special sauce.
Read more at: Banh Mi Thit (Geylang)
Blk 5 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-02, Singapore 081005
Opening Hours: 9am – 4:45pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 3pm (Sat), Closed Sun
Popular Banh Mi Shop At Tanjong Pagar With Affordable Offerings
Come to Bami Express during lunch time and you would find a long queue of office workers waiting for their dabao of Banh Mi.
Bami Express opened by a husband-and-wife team is found on the 2nd level of Tanjong Pagar Plaza.
The Bami Sai Gon ($5) is one of the signatures, with baguette of crackly crust filled with pate, pork ham, stewed pork, and topped with chicken floss.
Many of the ingredients are prepared in-house, and you can experience the various textures from the creamy pate, meaty cold cuts, to stewed pork with a lean bite (a tad but not overly fatty).
The medley of vegetables such as the sweet and light sour marinated carrots, daikon radish, freshly chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced cucumbers made this feel like a healthy yet flavourful treat. A bit of sweetness, tanginess and spiciness all together.
Read more at: Bami Express (Tanjong Pagar)
233 Banh Mi
157 Joo Chiat Rd, #01-01, Singapore 427435
Opening Hours: 8am – 7pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Authentic Banh Mi Eatery At Joo Chiat
233 Banh Mi is run by Lily, a nice lady who keeps things authentic.
The authentic Vietnamese eatery which was previously a takeaway stand, has recently moved into a full-fledged restaurant.
Sometimes, on Saturdays, the eatery runs special Vietnamese dishes for the day only. Every other day though, there are seven types of Banh Mi to choose from.
The way to introduce yourself to the dish is with the Banh Mi Truyen Thong ($6), which is the traditional style.
The best part about it is the toasted baguette, which becomes crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. The bread is smeared with a layer of pate, filled with coriander and spicy chili padi, and pieces of cha lua (pork sausage).
Being a mix of savouriness and freshness, you cannot go wrong with the trusty sandwich.
Otherwise, do the BBQ Beef ($6), Pate Chicken ($6), Tuna ($6), Mackerel in Tomato ($6), Grilled Pork ($6), or the Fried Egg ($6).
93 East Coast Road, Singapore 428792
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5pm – 9pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
Serving Authentic Vietnamese Street Food Since 2012
The stretch along East Coast Road is a foodie paradise. You would never ask “what is there to eat?” after seeing the restaurants and eateries under the vibrant shophouses. There is simply no wrong choice.
But just a few units down from Birds of Paradise, there is a unit painted in patina green.
What they do best is of course the Vietnamese sandwich – Banh Mi.
Supposedly, the lady boss learned how to make the perfect bread for the banh mi since she was young. It is a family recipe that she has kept alive by baking the bread fresh daily. So, it is no surprise when the sandwich arrived, and I found the bread with a thin crisp outer layer and a pillowy soft bite.
A Saigon Special ($8) has the quintessential pork belly and ham combination, with coriander, carrots, and cucumber for freshness.
The Pork Meatball Sandwich ($8) is another choice of protein that is still a true Vietnamese combination.
321 Alexandra Road, Alexandra Central Mall #02-26 Singapore 159971
Tel: +65 9138 0733
Opening Hours: 11am – 5pm (Mon – Thurs), 11am – 9pm (Fri), 10am – 9pm (Sat, Sun)
Banh Mi Made Using Sourdough Baguette
For those of you who remember La Saigon at The Plaza, they have found their new home at Alexandra Central Mall since 2018.
Farmers in Vietnam handpick La Saigon’s coffee beans. The owner also proudly mentions that the selected beans are freshly roasted here in Singapore to maximise freshness and flavour.
Ly says he is one of the few café owners in Singapore certified in Q grading, an internationally recognised way of grading coffee beans. That is one reason why their coffee has a huge following.
The cafe serves pho and bánh mì but also has other delicacies like grilled chicken salad with homemade kombucha and Thai chilli sauce ($12), as well as starters.
They have choices from Fried Tofu Banh Mi ($11.90), Egg Omelette Banh Mi ($11.90), Grilled Chicken Banh Mi ($11.90), to Roast Pork Banh Mi ($12.90), to Smoked Duck Banh Mi ($15.90).
The Banh Mi baguette which is made from sourdough, had crisp, fragrant skin with a spongy and flavourful centre. Roast Pork Banh Mi ($12.90), one of the popular items was very delicious. The bread tasted soft and soaked up the greasiness of the roast pork.
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* Compiled by Daniel Ang @DanielFoodDiary, Dean Ang and Laura Wong @llua.