Banh mi is one of Vietnam’s most famous foods.
But along with banh mi, just about on every corner of Saigon, another dish I kept noticing looked like it had very similar ingredients as a banh mi pate, but instead of golden baguettes stacked into the street food cart, there was a pot of steaming hot sticky rice.
One morning when we were Saigon, I stopped at a portable street food cart to try my first foam box of xoi man.
Just outside of the hotel where I was staying in Saigon, there was a friendly lady who sold xoi man in the morning.
When I arrived, she was actually nearly all the way sold out.
But as soon as I ordered, she smiled and was able to scrape out one last foam box of sticky rice, and top it with all the ingredients.
Luckily, I got her last portion of xoi man for the day.
As soon as I ordered she added a handful of sticky rice to the bottom of a foam box, and kind of spread it out to make a nice sticky rice foundation.
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I’m sure I’m going to forget a couple of the ingredients she sprinkled on, but I’ll try to hit the main ones.
After the sticky rice and pâté, she added a spoon of slightly oily green onions (perhaps stir fried to bring out their flavor), followed by a good amount of julienned pieces of Vietnamese sausage known as cha lua.
To increase the protein meats in this hearty protein breakfast, she then added a few slices of fried Chinese sausage, a half of a boiled quail egg, and a bunch of dry pork floss (I’ve never been a huge fan or pork floss, though my wife loves it).
The main difference from banh mi, apart from the starch change, was the addition of a good amount of crispy deep fried shallots added.
Just like eating a bowl of bun moc, the crispy shallots were added generously, and they gave the entire box of xoi man a wonderful fragrance – I could eat crispy fried shallots by the handful – they must be one of the most fragrant things on earth to season food with.
Using a spoon, my wife and I shared a single box, the last box of the day of xoi man.
I actually didn’t think I was going to really like it, as I’m not a huge pork floss fan, and I’m not huge on luncheon style meats or smooth sausage.
But even with those ingredients, I was quite pleasantly surprised just how good the xoi man was.
I still wouldn’t want to eat it everyday for breakfast, but I’ll admit, it was very enjoyable. Somehow the soft and crispy meats and the creamy pâté complemented the hot sticky rice remarkably well.
Watch the full video eating xoi man here:
(Or watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mCAyNd7HYc)
Xoi man is a popular Vietnamese street food in Saigon, especially common to eat in the morning for breakfast.
It looks nearly identical to banh mi pâté, except instead of all the ingredients filled into a crusty baguette, they are all packed on top of a bed of steamed sticky rice.
While there are some Vietnamese breakfasts I could eat everyday, xoi man is not one of them. Though I did enjoy it for my first try, and I liked the contrast of the hot sticky rice paired with the cool pâté, shreds of Vietnamese sausage, and pork floss.
For a convenient on-the-go street food breakfast in Saigon, give xoi man a try. You’ll find it available all over the place, especially in the morning.
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