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Jan 13, 2009 05:17 AM

Banh Mi @ Café Bay, London SE5

Completely by accident, I stumbled upon this cafe that serves the elusive banh mi. It's a small cafe called Café Bay, on Denmark Hill near Kings College Hospital; they do the normal range of sandwich shop fillings, but they also had 5 Vietnamese fillings, IIRC spiced pork, shredded caramelised pork, some kind of sausage, chicken satay and the "special", which I tried. It was a normal white (wheat) baguette, and the filling was some kind of mayo, paté, spiced pork (which was sort of like belly pork with streaks of silky, creamy fat), pork roll, shredded raw carrot, pickled cucumber, coriander and red chili.

I've never been to Vietnam so I can't vouch for the authenticity, but the manager and some of the staff are Vietnamese, it was really delicious and filling, and only £3, so I was very happy with it. They also offered Vietnamese iced coffee and filter coffee (around £2 I think) which I'll be trying next time I visit. Very happy to have finally found this especially as it's just around the corner from my office!

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  1. it's so weird that banh mi is hard to find in london.

    1. Thanks for the tip - love to check it out soon.

      1. Thanks for this. Any idea what time they open? I often look for something to pick up to eat on the way home after a night shift at King's around 10am. Also, are they just open for lunch, or late as well?

        1 Reply
        1. re: medgirl

          I think they're just open daytimes, I've been past in the evenings and they haven't been open, but I think they're open for the breakfast/coffee rush so probably by 10. They don't seem to have a website, unfortunately. With this and Silk Road, it seems that the foodie options in Camberwell are improving!

        2. Oooh I've been looking! Theyre a little far from me but I will definitely give it a shot!

          1. Got around to trying the banh mi here today. I've never had banh mi before, so am probably not the best judge. I had the caramelised pork variety on a wholemeal baguette. It came filled with roast pork, cucumber, shredded carrot, ? some kind of pickle and a few slivers of red chilli. Baguette was fresh, with some crunch and crackle to the crust and soft on the inside. They didn't skimp on the fillings. Next time I'll ask for a bit more chilli. Service was prompt and friendly. Sandwich was value for money at £2.80.

            1 Reply
            1. re: medgirl

              Sounds like I had the same kind of sandwich you did. Mine came without any chilli and when I asked for some they gave me some sauce in a bowl. I found the wholemeal baguette tasteless and felt it detracted from the filling. I was comparing it to a banh mi I had at Panda Panda in Deptford which was far superior. Still, the ambience is nice and the coffee was good. Would definitely go again and try a white baguette and ask for lots of chilli.