Le Petit Saigon
Time Out says
Little brother to Le Garçon Saigon on Wing Fung Street, this hole in the wall in Wan Chai serves the best banh mi in town.
A tiny eatery, even by Hong Kong standards, Le Petit Saigon has one narrow bench and counter for perching, but diners are encouraged to grab and go and to chow down on the curb outside, Vietnamese style.
Designed like an exponentially better-looking Subway, the ingredients are laid out so the sandwiches can be made in a production line fashion. In terms of meat, there’s fromage de tête (pork head cheese), based on a recipe by Le Garçon Saigon head chef Bao La’s mother, pork floss, chicken liver pâté, rolled pork belly and two types of Vietnamese sausage. Veggies include Vietnamese chillies, pickles, shallots, cucumber and coriander. Sandwiching the fillings is the custom baked bread, spread with mayonnaise, laid out in all its golden brown glory.
The mouth-watering aroma of the bread is the first thing I notice upon entering and it tastes every bit as good as it smells. Based on a recipe Bao discovered in Dalat, in the central highlands of Vietnam, the bread is perfectly light with a chewy outer crust. The fromage de tête is easy on the jaw: not too gristly but with enough bite. The creamy, gamey pâté is mellowed by the equally smooth mayo that provides a slight vinegary kick along with the pickles. The Vietnamese chillies are, in comparison, much sweeter and give a comfortable level of slowly warming heat when compared to the oft-used bird's eye chillies. The coriander, shallots, cucumbers and pickles are all outstandingly fresh, providing a satisfying crunch.
With Vietnam a short flight away, it’s easy to bemoan the high price tag of most banh mi in Hong Kong (Le Petit Saigon’s costs $88) but with ingredients of this calibre and flavour this good, we’re willing to crown it Hong Kong’s best. It’s worth every cent, too.
16 Wing Fung Street
|Transport:||Wan Chai MTR, Pacific Place exit|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sun, noon until sold out|