Looking for the best Banh Mi in Rochester MN? Look no further and here’s a detailed comparison on 6 different Banh Mis that are available in Rochester. What’s banh mi? Banh mi is a delicious Vietnamese sandwich, typically a French roll stuffed with pate, pork, Vietnamese sausage, pickled daikon radish and carrots(Đồ Chua), cilantro, mayo, and spicy stuff(optional).
I’ve had my fair share of Banh Mis traveling around Vietnam & living in Taiwan(we have a lot of new Vietnamese residence in Taiwan opening little eateries). All the banh mis are different, they’re all good, but different. They were sometimes filled with lemongrass grilled pork, sometimes fried eggs, sometimes the classic.
What I’m looking for in my perfect banh mi:
I’m looking for a classic banh mi. Crusty bread with a slight chew, the bread shouldn’t be too dry and should have good flavor. Fillings should be flavorful, Đồ chua(pickles) should be crunchy, sweet, and sour, perfect wetness to soften the bread slightly and bring everything together. The Banh mi should also have a mild hint of pate, good amount of cilantro to cut the richness, and a good smear of mayo.
Banh Mi in Rochester
I found most of my banh mis at Asian grocery stores in Rochester MN and Old Abe Coffee & Co. since he said he has the best banh mi in Rochester, plus he also used live in Asian so he knows a thing or two.
Asian Food Store is my go-to grocery store since it’s closest to where I live and almost always have exactly what I need. I found out today that they have a house-made version and one from A la Francaise French Bakery in St. Paul in the deli fridge, so I bought them both.
Old Abe Coffee Co. is at a walkable distance from Asian Food Store, getting a sandwich and coffee is a MUST. (Abe also has GF bowl versions of “Banh Mi” available.
I haven’t been to the Asian Pacific market for a long time, found that they have Banh Mi so bought some to try.
Checked out Lee’s Market but unfortunately, they didn’t have any sandwiches for sale today, I also heard Pho Chau took Banh Mi off their menu? Will have to further investigate another time.
The taste test!
To bring everything to the same level since some of the sandwiches were purchased cold, I baked all of them at 350 in the oven for about 7 minutes, until the crust is crusty and the bread is warm through. Rating from 0 – 5, and whether the ingredients are included.
|Category||Asian Pacific Market||Asian Food Store||A la Francaise||Old Abe Coffee Co.||Old Abe Coffee Co.||Bleu Duck Kitchen|
|Regular Banh Mi||Duck Banh Mi (Secret Menu)||Spam Banh Mi|
|Bread- Crust||5- very flaky||4||5||5||5||Hawaiian Rolls|
|Bread-Chew||0- no chew||1||0- no chew||4||4|
|Đồ chua (Pickle)||4 good salt, sweet, sour balance||2 Mild & too skinny||3||3||3||4|
|Pâté||V||X||V||X||X||X (but Spam makes up for it)|
|Pork||X||V Chinese BBQ Pork||V Sweet BBQ Pork||Spam|
|Viet Sausage||V Shredded, I actually like it||V||V||Smoked||Mock Duck|
|Cilantro||V||V Need More||V Need More||V||V||Microgreens|
|Mayo||V||V Need More||V||V||V||V|
|Bread-filling Ratio||4||2 (too much bread)||4||4||4||4|
|NOTE||This is our favorite||Fresh ingredients, but too much bread & dry||Peppery, sweet BBQ meat.||Super “Meaty”||Non Traditional|
So who has the BEST Banh Mi?
Sean and I agreed that our favorite traditional Banh Mi is from Asian Pacific Market! What do we love about it? The bread has a good flaky crust, the filling is balanced, flavorful, and dressed perfectly. The pickles is crunchy, not as shredded as most other places. The hint of pâté, mayo, and the amount of cilantro makes this sandwich great.
Our runner-up traditional banh mi from A la Francaise Bakery (in St. Paul but purchased at the Asian Food Store). We like the flavors a lot, add a little more cilantro will do the trick.
If you want a “MEATY” banh mi, Old Abe Coffee Co. is the one for you. Old Abe is actually vegan, their banh mi holds the most goodies, but it also made it hard for me to rate Abe’s banh mi.
It’s definitely not a banh mi you would normally expect, but it’s got all the elements. For me, banh mi is not about the meats, so having so much “meat” in the sandwich was odd. The meat is very smoky and pretty salty, so I wish there were more pickle to balance it, also the pickles to be slightly sweeter(or less “meat” lol). However, Abe’s got amazing bread, and if you like it spicy, they will give you all the jalapenos in the world. Don’t forget to grab a Vietnamese coffee from Abe while you’re getting your Banh Mi!
AN UPDATE ON OLD ABE BANH MI
After my original post, Abe reached out and recommended me to try an off-menu item- DUCK Banh Mi. I’m hooked. it’s definitely now my NUMBER 1 non-traditional banh mi. Abe’s already got the bread and the filling down, the one thing I wasn’t satisfied with was the saltiness and smokiness of the original mock meat, but MOCK DUCK fixed all of it. If you’re GF, Abe also offers “Banh Mi Rice Bowl” which I LOVE(so does Abe), best rice in town.
Asian Food Store house-made Banh mi- It’s got a good base! Since the bread is bigger, I usually grab some extra ingredients while I’m in the store to make the sandwich mine. Cilantro, mayo, and some pickled garlic chili paste. It’s also worth mentioning that Asian Food Store’s Banh mi tasted really fresh, we could taste every single ingredient in the sandwich!
Bleu Duck Kitchen recently added a banh mi to their bar menu. Spam / Cucs / Jalapeno / Radish / Carrots / Cilantro / Lime Vinaigrette / Sriracha Mayo.
It was spicy, flavorful, salty, and delicious.
Before you judge or let “spam” stop you from trying it, don’t. Spam is actually a great choice for giving banh mi a more traditional taste. It tastes like something in between pâté and Vietnamese sausage.
They used Hawaiian rolls instead of baguettes for bread, which is my only complaint about it since it’s named “Banh Mi”. The sweet rolls were great with all the fillings, but I really wanted the crust of a baguette. I guess it was a Hawaiian Mi 😂
We LOVE this chili and garlic in VINEGAR for the banh mis, btw. You can find this at most Asian grocery stores.
Where to shop & EAT!
Asian Food Store
1010 7th St NW, Rochester, MN 55901
Asian Pacific Market
4136 18th Ave NW, Rochester, MN 55901
Old Abe Coffee Co.
832 7th St NW, Rochester, MN 55901
Bleu Duck Kitchen
14 Fourth Street SW, Rochester, MN