#WOAWSOCIALCLUB TASTING SERIES #1 - BANH MI
Posted on September 02 2017
Banh Mi, a.k.a the Vietnamese sandwich, has got to be one of our team’s favourite street foods. Crispy yet chewy baguettes paired with savoury cold cuts, accompanied by fresh, crunchy vegetables - such symphony in a sandwich, what’s not to love?
With a number of restaurants popping up all around town, all claiming to serve the best banh mi in town, as avid foodies, our team had to drown ourselves into finding the perfect Banh Mi in town to get our cravings fixed.
We shortlisted four eateries out of their popularity, including the humble Banh Mi Kitchen in Central, Co Thanh as a dedication to Vietnamese street food icon, French new comer Le Petite Saigon and Com Bánh Mì the game-changer .
Le Petite Saigon
Le Petite Saigon, the little brother of Le Garçon Saigon located next door on Star Street is your to-go for a quick bite with a fancy French touch. The small storefront is vibrant and cheeky. Despite its French influence, their Banh Mi ($88) was created with chef Bao La’s family recipe which is faithfully based on the banh mi found in Ho Chi Minh City. He uses the most flaky, stone-oven-baked bread with heavy crumbly crust and chewy center for extra contrasting textures.
The filling comprises of five types of cold cuts, among which the juicy rolled pork belly particularly caught our attention. We are also fond of the head cheese made with pig’s cheeks. Veggies are lightly pickled with Chinese vinegar giving a sweeter taste to lighten the richness from the chicken liver pate and mayonnaise.
Com Bánh Mì
Looking for an unusual and funky banh mi? Com Banh Mi in Wan Chai is nothing like your average Vietnamese meals. The quirky little store with yellow and turquoise walls is inspired by the houses in Hoi An in the old days. As funny as it sounds, Com Banh Mi’s Vietnamese Australian chef Tim Lau dubbed himself as “Phuc Dat Bich”. Despite all the humor, he takes his bread very seriously. The team designed a specific formula to create airier and lighter baguettes with thinner crust.
The banh mi is filled with modern creative fillings such as Hainanese chicken and pork chop that was deep-fried to perfection. The sandwiches are bursting with flavors and juice with the generous spread of mayonnaise and spicy sauce. It’s definitely worth a try on the days when you feel like you just need a bit of fancy twist to your banh mi.
Co Thanh (which means Madame Thanh) is named after "the lunch lady" who runs a noodle stall in Ho Chi Minh City. She gained massive popularity after being featured in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show.
Co Thanh’s owner Brian Woo became her apprentice for three years and then brought the casual Vietnamese street food scene to the Poho area with added edginess. The rustic exterior and the noodle cart inside make you feel like eating right on the streets of Vietnam.
One variation of Banh Mi with cold cuts ($88) is available on the simple, limited menu. At Co Thanh, breads are baked in stone oven, which adds heaviness to the ultra-crispy crust. The sandwich is smeared with a thick layer of rich and creamy pate and is loaded with 5 kinds of cold cuts, cucumbers, carrots, chives, coriander and Vietnamese chilies to give a spicy kick. Walk-ins only so be prepared for a bit of wait.
Banh Mi Kitchen
Conveniently located on Li Yuen Street East in Central, just one alley away from the main street, Banh Mi Kitchen is a decent option for authentic and fresh takeaway banh mi with a relatively cheap price range.
Fillings are made in-house every day, bread doughs are delivered daily from RISE Boulangerie and then baked in-house at Banh Mi Kitchen to get that top notch bun with crispy crust and airy texture inside.
Choices Highlights from the menu include the Cold Cut Classic Sandwich ($48) stuffed with with three types of cold cuts and the equally satisfying Honey Meatball Special ($52) with lean pork simmered in their killer secret tomato sauce. The sandwich is a hearty, well-balanced treat, with the slight greasiness of the Vietnamese sausage made from pig’s ear well rounded out by crunchy pickled veggies and lots of coriander.
It was difficult for us to pick our favourite with such diversity- Banh Mi Kitchen is all about authenticity and it’s great for a quick and hearty meal; Co Thanh features a hip dining experience for casual Vietnamese street food, ideal for hangouts; Le Petite Saigon is where you can find a nice sleek banh mi; Com Banh Mi, the perfect choice for a reinvented sandwich sensation.
Check out the footage here:
Stayed tuned for next tasting adventure!