04/30/14 10:07am

The world’s best banh mi sports tomatoes and plenty of chili paste.

I’ve been following the social media exploits of my pal Jenny Miller whose trek across Southeast Asia has included stumbling into a Cambodian prison and spying such delightful venues as Chuck Norris Dim Sum. In this guest post she recounts discovering the world’s Vietnamese sandwich in a most unlikely setting.

Hoi An, Vietnam, is not a place that screams “authenticity.” After this tiny former trading town, with its neat streets of wooden shophouses situated charmingly at the mouth of the Thu Bồn River, proved irresistible to visitors, it’s been virtually theme-park-ized in recent years, so that every single business in the center of town now caters to tourists and an admission ticket is required to see the main attractions. In case you fail to get this memo, there are loudspeaker announcements several times a day informing you of this and other rules.

Disappointed with the town itself, I figured I’d spend my two days there focused on eating—always a good backup plan in Vietnam. After hitting the main market for the local specialty, cao lao (chunky gelatinous noodles, thin-sliced fatty pork, fried wontons, and greens in a tiny bit of broth), I did a some digging and decided I’d try a banh mi shop that was recommended on several different traveler’s blogs. (more…)