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[London] Banh mi?

  • Lina May 4, 2009 07:19 PM
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I haven't found banh mi in London yet. Anyone else had any luck? Could a major metropolitan city really not be embracing this amazing taste sensation?

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  1. Banzi on Lower Road - (mentioned by Limster on another thread) - definitely does.

    http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki....

    Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kake_pug...

    1. Greenwich Market has a Bahn Mi stand!

      I was standing in line for my Goddard's pie and saw a picture of a Bahn Mi stuck to the front of the serving hatch of the trailer next door. They aren't actually calling it Bahn Mi but the ingredients are unmistakable. The stand is called 'Baguettes' or something and it has a pork baguette with everything you'd expect in a Bahn Mi!! If I hadn't been revved up about Goddard's pies I would have grabbed one right there and then! But perhaps next time.....

      5 Replies
      1. re: isabella_deste

        is that the little food bit next to nat west or actually in the market itself?

        1. re: alexdz

          Down by NatWest - not the covered market but the outdoor one.

          1. re: isabella_deste

            i'll try one this saturday and report back.

        2. re: isabella_deste

          This is very exciting indeed. Great find. I'm going to plan a trip especially. Thanks very much.

          1. re: Browners

            Tried the Banh Mi Greenwich stall on Sunday. It was ok, not great though. Shame as the woman on the stall was very friendly. She seemed very surprised I knew it was called a Banh Mi. She told me the stallholders are from Nha Trang on the central coast. I'm not an expert so no idea if there are regional Banh Mi styles.

            I ordered the Vietnamese Special baguette (Banh Mi in brackets on the menu). Cost £3.50. Pate and pork were decent, but the processed sausagey meat was cut too thick for my tastes. Nice crisp pickled veg but not enough of it. All rather let down by rubbish bread - the sort of sandwich baguette you might be in a four pack in a Co-op or somewhere. A bit chewy and uniform rather than a proper crisp crust and fluffy interior.

        3. Cafe Bay, on Denmark Hill in Camberwell (near Kings College hospital) does them - lunchtimes only, but they've got a couple of choices, and they're all under £3.00.

          4 Replies
          1. re: babybat

            I went to the banh mi stall in greenwich this sunday. I had the bbq chicken baguette (I dont know if this means i didnt actually have a banh mi). i thought it was great. the baguette was crispy and although it was definately out of a packet it did the job fine. the pickled veg was really tasty, good chilli sauce and the peanuts and masses of coriander really topped the whole thing off. good chicken as well. for £3 i thought it was well worth it. I'd definately eat it again, although its a tough call between that or a (cheaper) goddards pie and mash.

            1. re: babybat

              I was visiting a friend in hospital at King's today and stopped at Cafe Bay for lunch. I had the special banh mi, which I really enjoyed. The bread was nicely crisp and fresh and the filling generous. It had paté, roast pork and pork roll, along with mayo, spicy carrot and cucumber pickle and fresh coriander. I liked it a lot.

              1. re: greedygirl

                I went back there again today and ordered the special, with a white baguette instead of a brown one, which I had the first time. Really delicious with the chopped fresh chilli, compared to the first one. Perhaps I was just unlucky before. Had a large Americano to accompany which they have on special offer for only £1. Believe all normal coffees are that price, for drink-in or out. Total bill was £4.

              2. re: babybat

                I tried one of theirs and found it fairly tasteless. No chili on it and asked for some and they gave me some chili sauce in a bowl instead of freshly chopped ones. Their cold Vietnamese coffee was nice though.

              3. I'm from Cabramatta (Sydney's version of little Vietnam) so I know a thing or two about authentic vietnamese food. Tried the banh mi thit from the Baguettes and more store in greenwich last weekend and it was really good. I have struggled to find a good tasting authentic banh mi thit with real ingredients. This place does more than just banh mi thit. My husband had the chicken wings and he thought they tasted great - just like what yuou would get in an authentic vietnamese restaurant in cabramatta. If you fancy authentic vietnamese food, visit the store. The owners are two really friendly ladies from vietnam (nha trang) so you know its the real deal. I am defitently going back to try a few other items on their menu.

                3 Replies
                1. re: kl2906

                  i went again on sunday and had another good vietnamese sandwich. i think for £3 its not as cheap as goddards, which is a bargain. but it is a damn sight cheaper than anything you get in the covered market and just as good.

                  as the covered market goes, i quite like the turkish pizza which is very tasty (although £4-5). the sushi is tasty, but £1 a piece so you'd only get 3 pieces for the price of a banh mi.

                  some of the spanish stuff is nice, but expensive. i like the range available in greenwich tho. better than the restaurants. which reminds me i need to follow up on a recommendation from the other day on another post...

                  1. re: alexdz

                    I agree, I recently had a Brazilian sandwich in the covered market, which while good was just too damn expensive!

                  2. re: kl2906

                    hey kl2906
                    where is their restaurant? i could just go down there and ask.. but i'm lazy ;)

                  3. Just spotted this review of a Bahn Mi stall at Broadway Market. It's not that favourable but the place could still be worth a try if you've got a craving.

                    http://rwapplewannabe.wordpress.com/2...
                    http://banhmi11.com/

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: DollyDagger

                      On broadway market last sunday, near the canal end of it rather than next to the vietnamese coffee stand, there is a new (or at least in the past 2 months since I was last there) Bahn Mi stand.

                      1. re: relizabeth

                        Did you try it? Was it any good?

                        1. re: deansa

                          Didn't try it, we had planned on going to cafe oto for 'japas' but then the queue was too long there. Will try to this weekend.

                    2. Noticed that Caphe House, which is opening on July 20 on Bermondsey Street, has a picture of banh mi among the images on the paper covering their windows. Don't know if that's for real or just a stock image, will report when they open.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: limster

                        I saw this place the other day too - looked interesting!

                        1. re: Nii

                          Caphe House is now open and claim they specialize in banh mi. They are open:
                          7am - 7pm, Monday - Friday
                          8am - 4pm, Saturday - Sunday

                          Really like the fact they are open on Sunday, just what this hood needs!

                          Haven't tried yet as I walked by at around 8 PM last night. I will try to get over on the weekend.

                          1. re: CTownFeedR

                            Tried it yesterday, falls into the not bad category, but waiting to see how they evolve since they just opened. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/638398

                            1. re: limster

                              Beat me to the punch, eh? Why should today be any different :).

                              I will try this weekend and report back.

                              S

                              1. re: CTownFeedR

                                Ha, CH is isn't about beating anyone to the punch -- it's about collaborative chow data pooling, especially a single data point usually isn't very meaningful. Looking forward to reading your (and others') reports. :)

                                1. re: limster

                                  Oh I know. It's always fun to one-up the top of the heap though. Looking forward to trying on Saturday.

                                  S

                            2. re: CTownFeedR

                              I just picked up a banh mi there.

                              They said they bake the bread on site, which is a plus as my baguette came straight out of the oven. On the downside, there wasn't any pate or pork roll on mine though, just a few slivers of roast pork, with the usual cucumber, carrot and sauces. It may improve over time, but so far I prefer the Greenwich place.

                              Some problems with slightly chaotic service, but I'll forgive them as they're new.

                              1. re: deansa

                                went to banhmi11 in broadway market last saturday and it was actually quite good. the bread was crusty and the pate really stands out. tastes very fresh. tried the iced coffee as well, i would recommend the two together. timeout just did a piece on banh mi in london this week, check it out if you are interested: http://www.timeout.com/london/connect...

                        2. A new place called Viet Baguette is about to open next to Lantana in Charlotte Mews W1. The notice on the window promises bahn mi and a specialism in street snacks. Will post when it opens. Fingers crossed.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: juneavrile

                            Yay! More banh mi! I've only had banh mi in the states, so i'm looking forward to trying it in my hometown.

                          2. Check out www.cafebay.co.uk

                            Brilliant banh mi (try the spiced pork) but not open Sundays.

                            1. We spent a recent sunday in Deptford for the open studios, and were pleasantly surprised by the number of vietnamese places on the high street. At least one had bahn mi on the menu. Alas, we were too full from sunday lunch to try any.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: relizabeth

                                They are popping up all over the place. New cafe also called Viet Baguette has opened just off Powis Street in Woolwich. Probably a bit off piste for most of you but well worth it if anyone's in the area. £3 for the works. Good rich livery pate and nice pickled carrots.

                              2. Viet Baguette has opened in Charlotte Place. The bread is good but the sandwich is just too meagre and doesn't come close to those I've eaten in NYC. The sliced pork had a good flavour but there so soooo little of it and no pate at all. So the bahn mi is mainly bread with some pickle strands, fresh coriander and a few rings of chilli. Not good. And poor value at £3.75
                                Very disappointed. I'll stick to making my own.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: juneavrile

                                  Sounds dreadful.....

                                  1. re: juneavrile

                                    I was disappointed rather than very disappointed with my caramel chicken banh mi but I'm not writing them off just yet. Didn't think much of the bread and had a chat with the owner about this, he is looking to source baguettes made with the right blend of rice flour and wheat flour, let's see what he's able to come up with. The filling was actually tasty but as you say there just wasn't enough of it and for £3.70 this represents poor value for a sandwich. There is pate on the menu which I would expect to feature in any of the pork banh mis but I am yet to sample. Interested to see pork floss on the menu, a favourite of mine but not an ingredient I associate with Vietnamese cuisine.

                                    Of the London examples I've tasted so far, Cafe Bay in Camberwell/Denmark Hill is the best although I wasn't happy with the pickled veggies there, either they hadn't been pickled for long enough or the pickling liquid itself was weak.

                                    http://vietbaguette.net/

                                    1. re: oonth

                                      You're quite right to give them another go. I'll try again when they actually have some pate (like you, always assumed this was a standard in a bahn mi) and maybe that will make it a deal better.

                                      1. re: juneavrile

                                        Anyone know whether they've opened their new larger premises yet. I know they didn't get exactly rave reviews, but I enjoyed the things I bought there.....

                                      2. re: oonth

                                        i saw pork floss all the time in vietnam!

                                        1. re: oonth

                                          Pork floss is very common in Vietnam, we call it cha bong. I didn't get to try Viet Baguette before they closed so I hope they open a new store soon!

                                          I like Cafe Bay too, their filings are really nice but the bread isn't authentic. I think they use the par baked stuff. But I go there quite often to satisfy my craving for banh mi. I like the shop too, it's nice and friendly.

                                      3. The best I have had is at Panda Panda in Deptford. The bread is fairly authentic with no doughy insides. They also have delicious bubble drinks, milkshakes and lots of different desserts. It's a fairly new cafe and I hope it does well. Just wish it was nearer to where I lived.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: cathodetube

                                          Yeah, I dropped in again last Sunday. I do think it's probably the best I've had in london, only downside is didn't see much pate!

                                          1. re: deansa

                                            Just spotted a new bahn mi vendor a bit off the beaten path -- a small yellow van called "Viet Van" on North Cross Road off Lordship Lane in East Dulwich. The man running it says he's planning to be there on Fridays and Saturdays. Offered three options -- chicken, pork belly and a vegetarian version. Won't claim to be a bahn mi specialist, but I was happy -- the bread was freshly toasted and there was ample pate and veg on my sandwich, and overall I thought it compared well to the one I recently had from Cafe Bay.

                                          2. re: cathodetube

                                            Sad times. Panda panda has changed their menu to remove the Vietnamese items, including banh mi. They are now reinventing themselves as a standard British sandwich shop & coffee bar (albeit also selling bubble tea.)

                                            http://panda-panda.co.uk/

                                            1. re: deansa

                                              Fear not! Due to the outcry on their Facebook page they've seen sense and are keeping the banh mi, and will be doing pho.
                                              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Panda-...

                                              1. re: babybat

                                                Glad they saw sense.

                                          3. Resurrecting this thread to add another banh mi shop to what's shaping up to be the definitive London directory! I finally got around to trying City Caphe yesterday; it's on Ironmonger Row, between St Pauls and Bank. Their official website is still under construction, but there's a decent Time Out review here http://www.timeout.com/london/restaur....
                                            I had the classic pork (banh mi dac biet, £3.85) which had roast sliced (belly?) pork, sliced sausage, and paté along with pickled carrot and daikon. The queues were pretty long at lunchtime, but it was worth the wait - the paté was sweet, moist and tasty, almost more like French rilettes than a liver paté. Baguette was light and crisp, and had that lovely flaky quality. The sandwiches are made to order, and mine had a good amount of chili heat to balance out the sweet and meaty flavours.

                                            In terms of other banh mi options, they also had grilled pork, grilled beef, chicken, and tofu. They also have pho, bun and summer rolls, and I saw some people eating lunchboxes of grilled chicken with rice, but I didn't see those on the menu board. It's a good option if you're in the area, and I'll be back to check out the rest of the menu.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: babybat

                                              I've heard that they do a decent pho as well. Will try to pop by at lunch at some point.

                                              1. re: jonY

                                                Their pho is fine (try saying that quickly!), albeit a tad meagre and not enough garnish, but their banh mi really is outstanding and the first (and only) example I've tried that justify the banh mi trend. I think it's the crisp, flaky texture of the baguette that makes it, but the filling is no less impressive and the portion is generous. As has been said - good chilli heat too, but not overwhelmingly so.

                                                I haven't deviated from the classic banh mi yet so I'd be interested to hear how the other options compare.

                                                1. re: emusinthezone

                                                  Agree with emusinthezone, the condiment selection is comically small. In fact, when I tried their pho a few weeks ago I was so amused I had to take a picture. See below.

                                                   
                                                  1. re: deansa

                                                    Wow. Talk about rationing. Reckon they account for each beansprout and mint leaf they hand out.

                                            2. a new banh mi place has opened up on Old St - opposite Cay Tre (and brought to you by the Vietnamese Kitchen, who own Cay Tre and Viet Grill). I tried the 'classic' - it was ok, but not a patch on the stall at Broadway Market. The baguette was more like a ciabatta and there was a bit too much pate which made it taste a bit 'gluggy' rather than the lovely fresh flavours of the chilli etc. Would like to go back though to try their mackerel version.

                                              -----
                                              Viet Grill
                                              58 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DP, GB

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: pj26

                                                I was wondering if anyone here had made it to Kêu yet.. My understanding is that rather than having the baguettes made with rice flour as they do on the stall at Broadway Market, they're using more of a sourdough recipe for their bread.

                                                1. re: YSL

                                                  Banh Mi Bay is a new Vietnamese cafe which recently opened at 4-6 Theobald's Road. Always packed at lunch and the banh mi is wonderful.

                                                  1. re: expatlondon

                                                    That is a branch of Cafe Bay, the original shop in Camberwell. It's been discussed elsewhere on this board. It does a variety of sandwiches, including banh mi.

                                                    1. re: medgirl

                                                      Went to the one in Camberwell today for some coffee. Was told that the one on Theobald's Road does their own bread baking so the sandwiches should be tastier/more authentic. Shame they don't deliver to Camberwell.

                                                  2. re: YSL

                                                    I was in Keu today. It was my first Banh Mi, so I can't really say how it compares. I found the baguette quite crunchy, and I did enjoy it but felt the flavours were slightly muted. There was quite a lot of pate in it as commented on above. It's a great place though and has Caravan Coffee and Postcard Teas. My fellow luncher had the roast duck lunch plate and was impressed. It did look good.

                                                    I live quite near Panda Panda but I've never been, I shall have to rectify that one Saturday.

                                                    1. re: YSL

                                                      Just wanted to clarify (and being open I work on the PR for Hieu who owns Keu). Hieu wanted to create a Banh Mi in the most traditional sense he could but without using improvers in the bread. He wanted an artisan bread - as close as possible to being traditional. That is why the partnership with Sally Clarke came about. Hieu worked with head baker there to develop the recipe and get it as close to perfect as it could be. When they make the Banh Mi's they do need to take out some of the middle of the bread though which is a shame (with the artisan bread they just have not been able to get it a light) but Hieu is not wasting a bit and using it up in other dishes in Cay Tre and Viet Grill.

                                                      -----
                                                      Viet Grill
                                                      58 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DP, GB

                                                      1. re: foodiestgeorge

                                                        Thanks for clarifying that to us, foodiestgeorge. It's good to know that Kieu's intentions are honourable in not wanting to use (artificial) improvers on the bread. Whilst the purists will argue that it's not exactly authentic, I personally don't have too much of a problem with it so long as the fillings are tasty.