A 42-year-old eatery in Hai Phong sells baguettes with only two filling options, but is packed every night.
When it first opened in 1978 it was in the northern city’s Hang Ga Alley, but later moved to 244 Hai Ba Trung Street, where the owners, a couple named Thang and Hieu, live.
Its only fillings are pate and butter but it is among the first places locals are likely to suggest to visitors with midnight cravings.
Pate stuffed bread on smoldering coals. Photo courtesy of Hoa Co Dai.
The bread is often mistaken for the typical Hai Phong breadstick since it is much smaller than the usual Vietnamese banh mi.
Hieu explained: “The size is just about enough for guests to crave for more; not too big but not too small either. It is good as a late-night snack.”
Furthermore, a typical Hai Phong breadstick is eaten with chili sauce while here meat floss and some melted lard are added instead.
Quoc Tung, 27, who lives on Van Cao Street, a few kilometers away from the place, stops by four times a week. The bread is addictive and the pate is flavorful and fatty, and much tastier than at other places, he said.
“Pate baguette is a popular dish that can be found anywhere, but it is really difficult to turn it into an addictive bite like this.”
Thang used to be a chef at a French hotel and so knows his way around European style pate and butter.
At first, the eatery did not have a name. As it gradually gained popularity many people started calling it “Old Couple banh mi“. The owners then made it its official name. They have now let their daughter handle the business.
The eatery sells 1,200 baguettes and 80 kg of pate a night, according to the owner. It is open from 6:30 p.m to 11:30 p.m daily.
A pate baguette costs VND12,000 ($0.5) and a butter baguette, VND15,000.
Hieu (top right), the 72-year-old owner, no longer sits in the front but remains inside to make pate and bread. Photo by VnExpress/Trung Nghia.