Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Thursday, April 14, 2011

For just $2, Chinatown's Vietnamese sandwiches put Subway to shame

update as of Mar 2015: Banh Mi Che Cali is closed but Nguyen Huang Food Co is still open. 

Toronto's downtown Chinatown is the home of several much loved shops that sell Banh Mi. Also known as Vietnamese subs or Vietnamese sandwiches, they are a wonderful hybrid of French and Asian culinary traditions.

Nguyen Huong Food Co. is located at 322 Spadina just north of Dundas. It's rival Banh Mi & Che Cali ("Sandwiches and Sweet Dessert") is next door.

Apparently banh mi was born in the French IndoChina era, when the Vietnamese adapted French jambon, baguette and mayonnaise sandwiches by adding Asian tastes such as barbecue pork, pickled carrots and sliced chili peppers.

Banh Mi Nguyen Huong's BBQ pork sandwich was a great combination of salty, spicy meat with fresh, moist, flavourful veggies such as shredded daikon (white radish), carrot and cilantro. I also tried the sardine sandwich and Che Cali's grilled tofu sandwich, and both were good.

Most small sandwiches at Banh Mi Nguyen Huong are just $2.00 and the big ones are $2.50, putting Subway's Five Dollar Footlong to shame.

Banh Mi Nguyen Huong also has locations in Scarborough, Vaughan and North York.

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  1. Will have to check that out. You rock Sarah! Doing all the hard work for me.

  2. I always wander up to one of these shops whenever I want a cheap lunch. I've developed a small addition to coriander and the pickled radish/carrots because of these.

    The sandwiches are nothing fancy (the meats used are pretty cheap/low quality) and the service isn't five-star either, but the price is certainly right!

    Damn, now I want a Vietnamese sub...

  3. I thought the small ones were $1.75? (The pre-made ones kept on top of the glass case next to the register). Maybe I just haven't been there in a while & they raised the price. =S

  4. Hey Sarah, your site is a goldmine!
    I can't wait to check out some of these spots.
    The colourful/funny store fronts almost never give away the goodness hiding inside.

    Did I tell you I recently joined the blogging ranks too.
    Topic of choice:travel.

  5. I was just there this morning and they say the premade ones are $2 and the freshly made ones are $2.75. Great to take to work for lunch!

  6. having left canada more than 8 years ago, these sandwiches are one of the tastes which I miss most of all