I’ve previously written about banh mi, which is basically a Vietnamese baguette sandwich, but also one of the best street foods on the planet. Unsurprisingly it was the french who introduced bread to the Vietnamese, so it is therefore not much of a surprise that Cambodians have also jumped on the whole bread wagon. Num pang is Cambodian banh mi! With num pang literally meaning bread, and num pang sach denoting the sandwich! Num pang for short…
Vietnamese street food tends to my favourite in the world, but how does this Cambodian copy compete with the original?
To read about taking the train through Vietnam click here.
Num Pang Sach
First let’s get the similarities out of the way, num pang and banh mi largely use the same baguette style bread, but my only criticism here is that Cambodian bread is often sweetened (much like China).
Banh mi tends to use meats cuts and pate, whilst in Cambodia num pang tends to very eclectic! Usual ingredients are fatty pork, sweet pickled slaw, and lots of chills sauce! But much like banh mi it depends massively on the vendor who is selling it. One of the weirdest and dare I say nicest varieties that I had was like a meatball sub in Pailin. My word was it spicy!
Did they copy the Vietnamese?
OK, so this is a good question. With many dishes here, such as banh mi and Loc Lak there is the question of where it originated from. In fact if you look at things objectively then they both copied the French. The French probably copied the Romans, who definitely copied the Greeks. I hope that clears things up. Don’t even get me started on Lord Sandwich!
Where can you buy Num Pang?
Much like banh mi you will see hawkers selling num pang on the streets of the whole country, very much in big cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but also in small places like the aforementioned Pailin and home of Pol Pot Anlong Veng. Num pang though is far less common than banh mi in Vietnam though.
My favorite place for num pang in Siem Reap is the street food haven that is by the riverfront.
Which is better banh mi, or num pang?
I genuinely like Cambodian cuisine, but in fairness there is a reason why there are Vietnamese restaurants everywhere and not Cambodian ones. Banh Mi is an absolute institution, whilst the Cambodian version is basically a semi-decent sandwich!
Update: I just discovered the best fusion banh mi in the world! BBQ skewers, papaya salad, all in bread for $1. I think it will deserve its own blog, but the world of Cambodian sandwiches just stepped up a gear in my mind.
A great easy go to street food dish when you travel around Cambodia. Yes the bread is sweeter than I would like, but it is genrally meat in bread. You cannot go wrong with meat in bread.
To read about my favourite Cambodian street food dishes of Phnom Penh click here.