I very well may have found my favorite sandwich in Wan Chai.
I've always been partial to the Vietnamese banh mi. I love how the Vietnamese took a French sandwich and added their own vibrant twist to it. The French first introduced the basic French bread loaf to the Vietnamese in the early 20th century during the French colonization of Vietnam.
Back then, a simple Parisian-style sandwich consisted of a French baguette, butter, and ham. These sandwiches (called “banh mi Tay“) were meant for the French locals living in the area, and were associated with expensive European delis. Soon, the Vietnamese began adding their own local ingredients to the simple sandwich, such as pickled vegetables, cilantro, and other Southeast Asian herbs. It became so popular, it eventually overtook the traditional French version.
Although today the word “banh mi” is today associated with the Vietnamese sandwich, the term actually technically only means “bread”, and a sandwich having meat would have a descriptor after it (e.g. banh mi thit = bread with meat).
Le Petit Saigon Wan Chai
It had been ages since Bryan and I had eaten a good banh mi sandwich (probably since moving to Hong Kong!). We were thrilled when we discovered Le Petit Saigon, right in our "backyard".
Le Petit Saigon is a small Vietnamese sandwich shop (more like a stand, almost) in the Star Street Precinct area of Wan Chai focusing on doing basically one thing really, really well.
The sandwiches are not cheap, at least compared to Vietnam (or even Southern California). At 88HKD a sandwich, these are sort of like the gourmet version of a street side banh mi.
However, it's an excellent sandwich and well worth the money. The bread is spot on, the vegetables and herbs are fresh, and the overall balance of flavors is really, really good.
Bryan got the classic Banh Mi Thit, which includes rolled pork belly, headcheese, Vietnamese ham, pork floss, mayo, chicken liver pate, pickles, spring onion, cucumber, fresh cilantro, chili, and soy sauce.
I really enjoyed my Banh Mi Ga, which had shredded chicken, chicken liver pate, mayo, pickles, spring onion, cucumber, fresh cilantro, chili, soy sauce, salt and pepper.
The bread was just the right consistency - soft enough that you could easily eat the sandwich, yet with just the right amount of crisp on the outside. The meat was good, and the other ingredients, like the pickles, herbs, chili, and condiments, balanced each other out really nicely.
There is a tiny bit of seating but not much. We ended up sitting on a bench right outside the restaurant munching on our delicious sandwiches.
If you'd rather eat in the comfort of your own home, they even offer free delivery for orders over HKD80 (just one sandwich will do!). We definitely saw a lot of people getting delivery orders while we were there.
I can't wait to go back.
Le Petit Saigon Wan Chai
16 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai
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