Name: Banh Mi
Time of Day: All day
Cost: 7,000 - 10,000 dong (c. 20p - 25p), but locals pay more like 5,000
The Rest: Vietnam used to be a French colony and whilst they managed to drive out their occupiers they made the wise move to keep their bread, although they call in Vietnamese bread. It is eaten with soup - which is good - but the best use is the mass of banh mi stalls lining the streets who fill it with meat, salad, pate and various sauces.
The bread is crisp and light and in the nicest places still warm, getting heat from charcoal fired ovens under the counter of the street stalls. You get pork belly, pork luncheon meat and pork paste (all at once). Cucumber is joined by grated carrot and a few strands of pickled veg. Sauce wise there's chili and then other oils, both meaty and herby. I'm not too sure exactly what they are but one local person said they were the meat juices from the roast pork filling. Whatever they are they soak into the bread adding flavour (not that we're short on flavour anyway with all that filling) and then drip out down your arms as you stuff your face. One of the best additions is something called pate, which I've already mentioned as a topping to the Vietnamese polenta in Hanoi. Here the soft minced meat is spread on to the bread before the other fillings go in, adding yet more depth and richness.They are one of the world's great sandwiches - fact.