Nha Trang ended up being a weird one for me; I'd planned a stop there on my travels down the coast of Vietnam because I'd heard that the beaches were great but it was super windy the whole time I was in town which meant that the beach was a total no-go. The waves were crazy high (like Brighton in mid winter) and the wind was whipping up the sand which is always a less than fun experience. Because I couldn't book Nick and I onto an earlier train we had to make the most of our three days in town and so we decided to try as many of Nha Trang's vegan eateries as possible. Our first stop was Bo De where we immediately delved into some steamed buns.
Now I love steamed buns every which way, faux bbq pork, crispy veggies and beans, mushrooms... any variation that I've tried I've loved. These were no exception which was extra great because Nick doesn't like veggies in a bun so I got to eat both of them. Score!
They were perfection, perfectly steamed dough, crisp peppery vegetables and to top it off they cost 8000 VND / 25p / 37¢. Complete madness. It blew my mind how cheap the vegan food in Vietnam was. We also tried the Pho which was excellent (and stupidly cheap of course) and I couldn't resist and side of salt and pepper tofu which was delicious but you can't really go wrong with deep fried tofu, salt and pepper.
The second stop on our foodie tour of the city was Banh Mi Chay, a little veggie banh mi stand at the side of the road near the beach. This is also where the tour stopped because I basically fell in love with this sandwich and ate it for every single meal until we had to leave.
The bread itself was perfectly light and crispy due to it being made with a mix of wheat and rice flours and it was stuffed full of so much deliciousness that it made me question why on earth I'd never eaten a banh mi before. First the bread is spread with the banh mi sauce which is kinda like a spicy hoisin, then in go lettuce, crunchy pickled veggies and plenty of coriander followed by strips of cucumber and sliced tomato and finally four kinds of fake meat - a wheaty faux pork, a wheaty faux chicken and some kinda baked soy loaf and then a handful of crisp, sweet sesame soy protein.
I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say that this was the best sandwich of my life and damn, I've had some good sandwiches (The Picard and this Croque Monsieur spring to mind) in my time on this planet! I, of course, had to omit the flavourful sauce once I realised what was going on with it's spice level but this was still the most excellent sandwich in the world. I would not eat a terrible sandwich six times in two days. I would also have bought all of her crispy soy protein and eaten it with a spoon because OMG it was the absolute best.
If you're ever in Vietnam I would urge you to get to Banh Mi Chay and buy yourself a sandwich or six. They're vegan by default although the stall does have butter and cheese available. The lovely woman running this place doesn't eat that stuff though so if you need an extra push to make the journey to Nha Trang go and support a rad vegan making rad sandwiches. Oh and the sandwich costs 10,000 VND / 31p / 46¢ which, although we paid more each time (this sandwich has to be worth at least £1 of any western travellers money), my mind is still officially blown that you can get an outstanding sandwich for so little cash.
Two thumbs up!
Between sandwiches and despite the beach being a bust we did manage to find some fun things to do to entertain ourselves in-between sandwiches. We visited two excellent photography galleries, DDK Black and White Art Photo Gallery and Long Thonh Art Gallery. The photographers were present at both as they're work / gallery spaces which was cool. I liked getting a little peek into the life of a pro photographer. If I had more disposable income or any walls I would have loved to invest in some amazing photographs of Vietnam but those aren't the life decisions I'm making right now and I already have enough art waiting for me in storage. We also passed some time at the pool on the roof of our hotel and with a spot of ten pin bowling. We would have checked out the cinema but the only thing on was Fast and Furious 7 and no, just no.
Nha Trang will be a must visit spot for me when I re-visit Vietnam one day, that sandwich was just so, so great that I'm going to have to eat it again. Luckily my friend Liz from Cooking the Vegan Books claims to have managed to whip up a version of The Sandwich in her own kitchen after also falling for it during her time in Nha Trang. I hope to be availing myself of the recipe next time I have a kitchen and decent stockpile of ingredients to work with!