Angeles City may be a chartered city independent of Pampanga since the 60s but it still shares the Kapampangan flair for cooking up delicious fare and perhaps more importantly, a contagious appetite for joyful eating. It’s a tall order to live down its naughty, steamy reputation but the city has another side that can satisfy the other senses. By that we mean the nose and the taste buds. Your Happyfoodies tagged along for a food trip of Angeles City and what we found pleasantly surprised us.
For starters, we found a piece of Vietnam along Jesus Street in the historic district near the Pamintuan Mansion — in Banh Mi Saigon. Who would’ve thought that you can find heavenly Banh Mi sandwiches and spring rolls in between a neighborhood gym and a sari-sari store? Owner Rex Soriano, recently repatriated from the U.S. after nearly a decade of working at Nobu in New York counted on his experience as a chef and the invaluable inputs of his Vietnamese mother-in-law and wife to come up with fare that begs for repeat visits.
Lagal[og] says: In lieu of the Vietnamese low table and chairs, there was a high table and matching high chairs fashioned from recycled softdrink cases. In a strange way, it reminded me of a Hanoi street scene in reverse. But instead of the traditional pho, Banh Mi Saigon offers what else but Banh Mi sandwiches. We tried out two varieties, the Dac Biet (Cold Cuts Combo) with Cha Lua (Home-made Pork Salami) Banh Mi and the BBQ Pork Banh Mi. Both are very good, from the flavorful meats to the light dressing, right down to the slightly-crisp bread.
Ironwulf says: I have fond memories of Banh Mi having been to Vietnam several times and when I learned there’s a Banh Mi place in Angeles City, I was excited to try it. With a Vietnamese mother-in-law guiding Rex in his cooking, I expect no less in terms of its authenticity, and happily, it didn’t disappoint. Watching how the Banh Mi was prepared behind the stall was reminiscent on how they do it on the streets of Vietnam. The Cold Cuts Combo had a subtle flavor and lighter sauce similar to Vietnamese street side Banh Mi but with more generous serving and better quality meat. The Vietnamese Style BBQ Pork had a stronger flavor due to its savory sauce — easily my favorite. The bread used isn’t the traditional baguette but the light toasting of the bread on a pan before and after putting in all the ingredients render the requisite crispiness with every bite.
Lagal[og] says: The spring rolls — the fresh and fried ones — are simply addicting. The fresh rolls are light and apt for a snack, laden with shrimp and pork but balanced with rice noodles, cucumber, cilantro and lettuce. The tart vinegary fish sauce is laced with pineapple. I’m not particularly fond of fresh spring rolls but I found myself constantly dipping my roll in the sauce. The fried rolls are something else. Pork, cilantro and lettuce wrapped in a thin wrapper fried to a delicious crisp and served with another variation of the vinegary fish sauce. A word of caution: the fried rolls are very filling and very, very addicting.
Banh Mi Saigon
Jesus Street, Angeles City
Open daily from 10am – 7pm
Happyfoodies thank the Angeles City Tourism Office, particularly Ms. Christine Nunag, for their insights and hospitality, and for welcoming us with open minds and eager tummies in exploring the gastronomic destinations of the city. More features on Angeles City coming up.