To be honest, I typically only eat bánh mì if I’m hungry in a hurry or at the end of the month (and eagerly awaiting my next paycheck). Bánh mì is as ubiquitous as Phở, and cheaper, which means I get my fill quickly.
Bánh mì Bảy Quang appears to be a normal Bánh mì street vender – a shiny stainless steel box on wheels, in an alleyway off Đinh Tiên Hoàng. Piles of fresh baguettes, shaved pork, and pickled veggies, illuminated by a single fluorescent light, behind a clear glass window. This banh mi stand has not one, but two Vietnamese ladies wearing printed lounge clothes, working side by side, quickly assembling sandwiches for the frequent customer on motorbike.
I motion to the piles of ingredients and make a “one” with my pointer finger – the universal street vender sign for, “Make me one of those.” Quick as a whistle I’ve got a warm baguette wrapped in newsprint, nestled in a plastic bag, ready to go. Since this stand has no seating, I walk to a nearby refreshment shop and buy a milk tea in exchange for use of their chairs and table. I sit down and dig in. The baguette is perfectly crispy on the outside, and on the inside soft, slightly chewy and warm. The meat is flavorful and not too tough; the veggies are delicately pickled, with just enough fresh cilantro. There is a thick layer of mild, creamy pate–probably the best I’ve had in Saigon. The sandwich itself is undoubtedly better than that from your typical banh mi vender. Pretty delicious.
Though, I wouldn’t likely go out of my way to go back, if ever I’m in the neighborhood, I’d definitely grab another bánh mì from Bánh Mì Bảy Quang whether it was the end of the month or not.