Baguettes are synonymous with Paris but usually filled with something like ham or cheese. Not roasted pork, cucumber, sriracha sauce and mayonnaise. At Banh Mi on the Rue Descartes, just before the famous Rue Mouffetard, you can pick up a baguette inspired by a little journey further east.
Vietnam of course was colonised by the French in the mid 19th century. To this day French is still spoken in Vietnam and the influence has even spread to the cuisine. Case in point: Banh Mi. This sandwich is like a bridge between Vietnamese and French cultures, a French baguette filled with pate and mayonnaise but with the addition of roasted meat and Asian pickles.
One of the most famous market streets in Paris is the Rue Mouffetard. As we were staying a short walk away in upper Saint Germain, we decided to go and have a look. Before we could even get to the street, we happened to find a little hole in the wall type of shop selling the famous Vietnamese sandwich in Rue Descartes.
Simply called ‘Banh Mi’ this is like any regular sandwich shop in the western world. A counter, a drinks fridge and service with a smile. The choices here are also pretty simple. A filling choice of pork,beef, chicken or tofu. We were tempted by the beef.
The beef comes in meatball form, the Vietnamese answer to Greek Koftas. Heated in a microwave and then placed into a fluffy baguette with pate, mayonnaise, pickled carrot and cucumber with the option of spicy sriracha sauce. All this for the princely sum of €4.70 with a drink. Now who said Paris was expensive?
This isn’t really a place that you can sit in and eat so we took our sandwiches away to a small seating area in the square of Place de Contrescarpe. This is a beautiful place to eat a baguette, surrounded by the typically Parisian buildings, cafes, bars and a bustling market nearby.
The sandwich was fantastic. A bite into this captures a little bit of everything inside. The beef could have been dry as many kofta-style meatballs are, but no. A juicy meatball paired beautifully with the pate, mayonnaise and pickled veg. I need not tell you that the baguette was of the highest quality, we are in Paris after all.
A bargain lunch and a brilliant introduction to the famous Rue Mouffetard. This is the perfect place to begin an impromptu eating tour of this famous area of Paris. Down the street you can find crepes, cakes and seasonal fruits, even oysters and seafood. Absolutely worth heading south of the Seine for.
Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 1100-1800
Nearest Metro: Cardinal Lemoine