How to Say Bánh Mì (Banh Mi) Vietnamese Submarine Sandwich

Updated 01-11-18. Vietnamese bánh mì is not pho, of course, but I get inquiries about it often enough so here are the pronunciations for various bánh mì types. By the way, it is spelled bánh mì (banh mi) and never bahn mi as you may see around the Internet. "Bahn mi" with the h before the n (hn) is an incorrect spelling.

About the Word Bánh Mì

The words bánh mì is actually a two-syllable hyphenated word: bánh-mì. I digress here by saying highly recommend you check out the Wikipedia page on Vietnamese morphology for some interesting ways Viet people use our language, including hyphenated words.

Back to banh mi. So before arrival of the French baguette, Viet people had a lot of different types of baked treats call "bánh" this and "bánh" that (more on this a few paragraphs down). After introduction of the French baguette, Vietnamese added bánh mì which is a bánh baked with wheat flour using the French baking technique.

Vietnamese banh mi, Google search results

The Vietnamese word bánh mì itself has two main meanings. One, banh mi in general means a loaf/slice/piece of bread, most often related to the French baguette, but banh mi can also be used to describe sliced bread and other breads. It basically means bread of any kind. Two, banh mi refers to the bread stuffed with a variety of meats and Viet pickles. It is what most North Americans know as the submarine sandwich. In a Viet sandwich shop, you can buy not only the bread-stuffed-with-meat sub sandwich kind of banh mi, but also the whole baguette banh mi if you're lucky enough that it's also a bakery with onsite ovens.

"Bánh" itself really has several meanings, but in this context it means any flour-, rice- or wheat-based food that is baked, cooked, or steamed. Examples are bánh ngọt (means sweet cake), bánh bao (means ball-shaped steamed dumpling), and bánh chưng (means rice cake). "Mì" also has several meanings (one of which is egg noodle) but in this context it means bột mì or wheat flour.

For a more detailed story on Vietnamese Banh Mi, head on over to read Andrea Nguyen's post on banh mi, "Master Banh Mi Sandwich Recipe."


How to pronounce banh mi

Pronounce: Various types of Vietnamese bánh mì.

  1. Bánh mì gà (banh mi with grilled chicken.) Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Bánh mì gà     
  2. Bánh mì trứng (banh mi with egg-omelette style.) Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Bánh mì trứng     
  3. Bánh mì bì (banh mi with shredded pork.) Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Bánh mì bì     
  4. Bánh mì thịt nướng (banh mi with grilled pork.) Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Bánh mì thịt nướng     
  5. Bánh mì xiú mại (banh mi with pork meatballs.) Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Bánh mì xiú mại     
  6. Bánh mì thịt nguội (banh mi with cold cuts-cured pork & pork roll.) Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Bánh mì thịt nguội.     
  7. Tôi muốn ổ bánh mì chay (I would like a vegan sandwich, please.) Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Tôi muốn ổ bánh mì chay.     
  8. Bánh mì đặc biệt (Special banh mi). Southern accent then Northern accent.
    Bánh mì đặc biệt.     

Thanks to Christian Belanger and Jim Fung for the request for the audio files.

If you have another type of banh mi you'd like to hear, please drop a request in the comment below. Okay this is a pho blog, so please take a poll below.

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  1. Cuong Huynh 29 May, 2013 at 21:24 Reply

    @mo: I agree. Good food is good food, regardless of how it is pronounced. But then after finishing your banh mi, when you’re sitting there in amazement of what just transpired, you’d probably wonder “what the heck is this thing that tastes so darn good pronounced anyway?” Then you’d go search out this page; probably how you got here and left a comment in the first place. Thanks for visiting 😉

  2. Maggie 9 January, 2018 at 17:58 Reply

    I’m not Vietnamese. I’m assuming you made this post for people like me. I just read this and want to tell you it’s awesome!!!

    Also, how do you pronounce Banh Mi special/combo – the sandwich with EVERYTHING on it. Yum!

    Cam on!

    • Cuong Huynh 11 January, 2018 at 12:07 Reply

      Hi Maggie: Haha you assumed correctly and thanks for liking the post. You’re awesome yourself!

      Right. So the yummy banh mi you want is Bánh mì đặc biệt, as pronounced in No. 8 on the list. How could I have missed it?


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