Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bánh Mỳ Huế

The Vietnamese word for bread is bánh mỳ (bánh mì in the south). Confusion sometimes arises because the same word word is used to refer to "sandwich," which in Hanoi usually means a smear of paté, a few slices of processed pork, and maybe some pickled veggies and cilantro stuffed inside a buttered Franch baguette. The term gets even looser, however, when it's used to refer to a special dish known as Bánh Mỳ Huế, or Bánh Mỳ Bít Tết. For you and me, that's just good ol' steak and eggs!

When you order Bánh Mỳ Huế, you receive a scalding black skillet with a metal lid, inside of which are frantically sizzling gobs of oil. The air is redolent with the burnt-sweet scent of smoldering flesh, but you should refrain from giving in to your carnivorous instincts, and let the oil die down before lifting the lid (or else open it and start eating as a type of drunken freshman initiation rite, but keep the nearest hospital's burn unit on standby).

Once you decide to peek inside, the sight is glorious: slivers of thinly-sliced beef (bít tết is the Vietnamese pronunciation of the French "beefsteak"), saturated meatballs, unguent French fries, and a few green onions and tomatoes tossed in as a gesture toward good health. All this surrounds a couple of the most deeply-fried eggs you've ever seen. It hardens your arteries just to look at it.

This magnificent greasebomb is served with a side of pickled cucumbers, some fresh tomatoes, and a hearty French baguette, but it is not meant to be eaten as a sandwich. Rip off rough hanks of the bread, take morsels from the frying pan and whatever else appeals to you, and savage your meal like a cheetah on a gazelle. A dash of chili paste complements the meat very nicely. Just make sure to leave some bread at the end, so you can soak up the remaining grease. You will swear you have died and gone to high-cholesterol heaven.

I've had this dish in a few places in town, but the best joints, in my opinion, are on Hòa Mã - Bánh Mì Huế Ngọc Hiếu on #9 Hòa Mã is quite good. Being rich and meaty, this meal will set you back a whopping US$3 (once you factor in your drink) - not counting medical expenses.

4 comments:

  1. That looks delicious! Do you if they have this in Saigon as well?

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  2. Hey Ctran,

    I haven't been to HCMC in years, but I am POSITIVE that you can find this dish there. Look for the southern spelling of bánh mì (instead of bánh mỳ) and various possible combinations, such as:

    Bánh Mì Huế
    Bánh Mì Bít Tết
    Bánh Mì Bíttết

    ...and so on. Let me know what you find - I'll be anxious to see if there are any major differences!

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  3. wow, your Vietnam knowledge is so amazing. Banh' mi` (~sandwich)(why I can't type Vietnamese) may also contain egg, too.
    The North uses banh' mi` the same as banh' my`.
    have you ever try reading Vietnamese Internet words? Sometimes even i can't understand

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