David is not good for my attempts to go wheat-free, or at least bread-free (which is not some shallow attempt at weight loss or at being trendy, it is actually because every time i eat bread i end up feeling ready to barf). Anyways he found this ridiculous article in the New York Times. So of course this afternoon, pressed for time and starving after an incredibly frustrating return trip from Halong Bay (which included 40 minutes of backtracking for a styrofoam box of fish) we set out in the general direction of Hoang Kiem lake, and not feet from the famous Bia Hoi corner we stumbled upon a man slinging said sammies. All wheat-free resolve had crumbled days before during a rushed attempt to eat brekkie before departing for the glorious wonder of Halong Bay so I didn't even pretend to resist and we ordered two right there and then.
Maybe we should back up here and discuss what bahn my (ban mi or some combination of spelling) are exactly. As the NYT will tell you, and I can tell you as well, the word translates to 'bread,' but usually refers to a sandwich in a mini baguette wrapped in newsprint. They are most frequently purchased on the street from a vendor, you choose the fillings: pate, laughing cow cheese, chicken, pork or in this case Doner Kebab. Then you have your veggies (cucumber is a MUST), chili sauce, and maybe some mayo. Dave sums it up as, 'a vietnamese sanwhich,' which I suppose if you are "into the whole brevity thing" covers it.
Anyhow our first round was not on the traditional baguette, it was some sort of slightly denser, more toothy than the standard mini-stick, right-angle-triangle wedge of bread, which was great. The pork's fat was all rendered and spiced with a sort of Vietnamese take on the chinese 5 spice. Add a bit of lettuce and onion with a squirt of chili sauce to the mix and we were in business. We consumed round one on the way to the DVD shops which line the streets near Bia Hoi corner and by the time we had finished our first round of buying pirated media (don't judge) it was time for round two. Look I get that normal people would say that this was excessive (and I am sure LINDY is having a fit thinking about her over-sized children chowing down in Hanoi) but whatever, we were hungry. So round two was accompanied by some small talk with a couple Aussies and a bit of a wait, but it was worth it. This time it came in a baguette with the addition of purple cabbage and it was fabulous as well. Why are sandwiches eaten while walking down the street so damn satisfying? After our second course it was back to DVD/music purchasing.
Then we took a walk around the lake over to KOTO so that we could do some more eating and support a good cause. We did hold back, just split a main (marinated chicken supreme or something to that end) and tempura vegetables, and then there was creme brulee (i am weak when it comes to this) as well as coffee. I mean this is the shit that happens when you have too many things which you want to eat and not enough time. I blame our crazy ass driver for the not enough time part of the equation. So I guess, judge all you want, my belly is full of Vietnamese goodness and yours probably is not. UP NEXT: a flight to hue and an adventure with Mr. Khoa.