Wade on Birmingham

Birmingham’s Best Eats: The beauty of bánh mì

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Shrimp bánh mì, Saigon Noodle House, $4.50.
Photo by Brad Daly.

By Glenny Brock and Brad Daly

As the only Vietnamese restaurant in town for a decade, Phở Quê Hương in Green Springs once had a monopoly on bánh mì in Birmingham. But the 2009 opening of Saigon Noodle House on U.S. 280 meant serious competition. Suddenly, Phở Quê Hương wasn’t the only place in town to get the scrumptious sandwich sometimes known as the Vietnamese po’boy.

Birmingham's Best EatsThe bánh mì may be the best thing to come out of colonialism: It’s essentially a French salad sandwich (vegetables on a baguette slathered with butter and mayo), enlivened with Vietnamese ingredients (soy sauce, fish sauce, daikon radish root or pickled carrots).

A good crusty French bread elevates any sandwich, but the combination of crisp vegetables and succulent meats puts the bánh mì in a different league.

Phở Quê Hương offers Vietnamese ham, grilled pork and roasted pork (or a combination of all three) as fillings. Saigon Noodle House has a bigger selection: påte, Vietnamese meatballs, roasted pork, charbroiled pork patties and Vietnamese ham, served in six possible combinations.

At just $4.50, the price is deliciously shocking in both places. And since the sandwich is a model of comfort food worldwide, the bánh mì makes a great introduction to Vietnamese cuisine.

For more, see the extended post on Stay Hungry.

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Phở Quê Hương

  • 430 Green Springs Highway, Homewood, 35209 [map]
  • (205) 942-5400
  • Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Saigon Noodle House

  • Best Buy shopping center, 4606 U.S. 280, Birmingham, 35242 [map]
  • (205) 408-1800
  • Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday

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Also:

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Glenny Brock

Brad DalyWriter Glenny Brock (@glennybrock) and photographer Brad Daly (@bwdaly) launched the Birmingham food blog Stay Hungry (@stayhungrybham) in June. He cooks, she writes, and they both eat, thoughtfully.

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Hungry for more? Check out the menu of Birmingham’s Best Eats!

4 Yips for “Birmingham’s Best Eats: The beauty of bánh mì”

  1. Tweets that mention Wade on Birmingham » Birmingham’s Best Eats: The beauty of bánh mì -- Topsy.com
    Tuesday, August 3, 2010, 10:08 am
    1

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wade Kwon, Stay Hungry Bham. Stay Hungry Bham said: RT @WadeOnTweets: Bham's Best Eats: The beauty of bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwiches) by @stayhungrybham: http://itswa.de/bbe-banh-mi #bhameats […]

  2. Jen Barnett
    Tuesday, August 3, 2010, 1:13 pm
    2

    This is so interesting. My husband and I got in a discussion speculating why only Vietnamese restaurants (as opposed to other Asian restaurants) have bread/sandwiches, and we vaguely guessed “the French,” but we weren’t sure. Is the shrimp banh mi on the menu or do you have to ask for it? Thanks!

  3. Glenny Brock
    Thursday, August 5, 2010, 4:33 pm
    3

    Jen –
    I think Saigon Noodle House recently added shrimp bahn mi to the regular menu. The night we had it was the first time we’d seen it & we’ve been eating there for months.

  4. Jen Barnett
    Friday, August 6, 2010, 7:55 am
    4

    Thanks Glenny–I can’t wait to try it!

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