As I was talking with my Vietnamese friend one day, she had mentioned that there was this famous Vietnamese sandwich shop in Toronto in which all Vietnamese people far and wide knew of. She said "Eric, the sandwiches are SUPER GOOD DELICIOUS here! I have the 3 of thems everytime I come" Of course when a person says a restaurant of their own culture is good, I believe them wholeheartedly. They know the autheticity of their food the best. So one afternoon as I was in Chinatown, I decided to head to this place she spoke so highly of: Nguyen Huong Vietnamese Sandwiches. As I reached my destination, I realized this was not my first time here. When I was little, my mother always took me to Downtown Chinatown to buy groceries, and after we did her errands, she would take us to this exact sandwich shop. Of course, back then the sandwiches cost $1.00 each.
Banh Mi Sandwich
Upon entering the shop, it was exactly how I remembered and very little has changed since. There was still one counter where all the breads, meats and vegetables were clearly displayed and other sort of Vietnamese food items being sold. The place was not the cleanest of shops but that is what is expected when you are in Chinatown. But I was here for their famous Vietnamese subs. A traditional sandwich or Banh Mi, as Vietnamese people call it, is composed of a baguette style bread filled with pork liver pate, vietnamese ham/meats, and topped with shredded daikon radish, pickled carrots, sliced cucumber and fresh cilantro. When you step up to the counter, the person asks you what kind of sandwich you would like (choice from bbq pork, traditional banh mi, etc), what size (S or L) and if you would like it spicy. I decided on the traditional banh mi with spicy. The first bite brought me back to my childhood. The bread, generously buttered, is almost always my favorite part as it is has a crispy/crunchy outer texture, but the middle is soft and fluffy. The meats (although to this date, I do not know what animal or part of the animal, Vietnamese ham/meats is made of) were soft and had a very creamy taste; it was probably my least favorite part of the sandwich as I had no idea what I was eating. And the vegetables added a nice crunchy texture with a nice sour tone of the pickled daikon. I could also really taste the fresh cilantro, which had a very strong fragrance.
Banh Mi Sandwich
However, I was a bit disappointed with the couple of spicy peppers which were added because they were not spicy at all and there was not much difference between the regular banh mi. Prices for a small sub was a measly $2.00, while a large cost only $2.50, including tax. How can you get any cheaper than that these days (even with inflation after >10 years)?! For the price, the authenticity and the quality of their food, I will definitely be back! After looking at their website on the Internet, I found out that they are really well-known and have expanded their original sandwich shop to 4 locations within the GTA. But obviously going to the original shop in Downtown Chinatown will give any person the most authentic experience, as this is where they first began. I definitely (as well as my Vietnamese friend- thanks Nhi (one of our writers)) recommend this place if you are hungry for a cheap and real Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich.