Foreign tourists eager for HCMC banh mi festival

By Bich Phuong   May 19, 2024 | 01:00 am PT
Many foreign tourists said they eagerly awaited the opening day of Vietnam’s banh mi festival in HCMC to enjoy variations of the popular Vietnamese sandwich.

Frenchman Will Courageux said he flew from Hanoi to HCMC to attend the festival at Le Van Tam Park in District 1.

On the opening day on Friday, he tried Hai Phong breadsticks, special mixed bread, avocado bread, and fried bread, and returned on the second day to have fun with friends and try the Huynh Hoa brand.

He said he knew about the brand through videos of long queues spilling out onto the streets waiting to buy loaves of bread from the stall.

"Huynh Hoa's bread is exactly as everyone describes, two to three times larger than regular ones, with many types of fillings inside," he said. "Eating one is enough to fill you up for the whole afternoon."

Banh mi is also a French specialty, but Courageux said it's completely different from the Vietnamese version. French bread often has a fatty taste and does not have many fillings like in Vietnam, he said.

Keiichi from Japan visited the festival thanks to his friend’s introduction. He has been in HCMC for seven months and eats bread almost every day. Keiichi was eager to attend the event because there were many shops in HCMC that he had not had a chance to try.

He commented that the festival was fun, and although it was crowded, people did not have to queue too long to buy bread.

Will Courageux, du khách Pháp và Keiichi, du khách Nhật vừa ăn hết ổ bánh mì 65.000 đồng. Ảnh: Bích Phương

Will Courageux (R) and Keiichi pose at the banh mi festival in downtown HCMC, May 18, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Bich Phuong

Before coming to Vietnam, Keiichi used to eat banh mi in Japan at a restaurant opened by Vietnamese people. Keiichi finds the taste not too different, but the fillings in Vietnam are "too much."

Keiichi expressed his desire to experience more Vietnamese culinary festivals.

Most foreign visitors are impressed with the bread’s fillings. After 15 minutes walking around the festival, Laura and Emma from South Africa found a bakery for vegetarians.

Emma said the festival atmosphere was vibrant and there are many types of bread that she had never tried.

When they first came to Vietnam, they thought bread only had salty fillings. Now they have discovered many shops selling vegetarian bread filled with mushrooms, vegetarian rolls, and vegetarian wraps.

Laura và Emma mua bánh mì nấm giá 15.000 đồng mỗi ổ. Ảnh: Quỳnh Trần

Laura and Emma (R) buy loaves of mushroom breads at a stall at the banh mi festival in HCMC, May 18, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

"The bread is very cheap, has many fillings and can be eaten at any time of the day," Laura said.

Laura said that when traveling to any country, she always goes to culinary festivals to enjoy local delicacies. Previously, she participated in a vegetarian food festival in Vietnam.

The weather in Ho Chi Minh City during the festival has been much more pleasant than last month and Emma did not feel tired when participating in crowded outdoor activities.

The three-day festival in District 1's Le Van Tam Park is expected to welcome 100,000 visitors through Sunday.

The festival features over 130 pavilions showcasing the best Vietnamese baguette sandwiches that the nation’s top restaurants, bakeries and domestic and foreign suppliers have to offer.

Some 25% more eateries are participating this year compared to last year.

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