We continue our series exploring the diverse culinary traditions of communities in our region, with a trip to Northern Virginia’s “Little Saigon”. We learn about the magical alchemy of “Pho” and the unique experience of the local Vietnamese-American community.


  • Andrea Nguyen Author, "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" and "Asian Dumplings" (Ten Speed)
  • Todd Kliman Food and Wine Editor, "Washingtonian" magazine
  • Hoa Lai Executive Chef, Four Sisters (Falls Church, VA)

View Local Restaurant Worldtour in a larger map

Note Above map uses the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Several states and local jurisdictions– including the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Falls Church–recognize the former South Vietnamese flag as the Official Flag of the Vietnamese American.


From Andrea Nguyen

Banh Mi Sandwich

For each sandwich:

1 petit baguette roll or a 7-inch section cut from a regular length baguette, purchased or homemade
Mayonnaise, real (whole egg) or homemade mayonnaise
Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce
Your choice of boldly-flavored meat or tofu, sliced and at room temperature
3 or 4 thin seeded cucumber strips, pickling or English variety preferred
2 or 3 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
3 or 4 thin jalapeno pepper slices
Everyday Daikon and Carrot Pickle (do chua)

  1. Slit the bread lengthwise, and then use your fingers or a bread knife to hollow out the insides, making a trough in both halves. Discard the insides or save it for another use, such as breadcrumbs. If necessary, crisp up the bread in a toaster oven preheated to 325 degrees F, and then let it cool for a minute before proceeding.

  2. Generously spreading the inside with mayonnaise. Drizzle in some Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce. Start from the bottom portion of bread to layer in the remaining ingredients. (As with all sandwiches, you’ll eventually develop an order for layering the filling so as to maximize the interaction between flavors and textures.) Close the sandwich, cut it in half crosswise for easy eating, and enjoy.

For more of Andrea’s recipes, including her “kho” (fish) claypot recipe with caramel sauce, and her family’s Beef Pho Noodle Soup recipe, visit Viet World Kitchen.

Reprinted with permission from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors by Andrea Nguyen, copyright 2006. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

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