The Lunch Challenge continues…

by Hasson Associates March 20th, 2013

Apologies for the delay since my last post, I’ve been slightly hibernating for the winter months when it’s come to lunch. I’m hoping this following suggestion makes up for my slackness…

Growing up in Melbourne, Vietnamese culture was an ever present constant. Pho (beef stock noodle soup) was a winter favourite (yes it does get cold in Australia), Nguyen was in the top 10 most popular surnames in Australia and it was an undisputed fact that Vietnamese run bakeries were the best value for money in town.

So it came as a great shock that with all this Vietnamese culture around me, I never once came into contact with arguably their best creation until only a couple of years ago, and in London no less.
THE BANH MI.

As Vietnam was formerly a French colony, they’ve taken the art of baking and converted the humble baguette into something Asian. The baguette (which is freshly baked) is filled with pickled carrot and mooli, sliced cucumber, coriander, fresh chilli and generally a choice of a meat filling (which is usually served warm). The fillings on offer can vary but are usually pork, beef, chicken, prawn or even a special pate.

There are a few different choices around W1 from Banh Mi Bay on Rathbone Street which has a nice variety (price £3.50 – £3.95) to my favourite Banh Mi11, which has a stall on Berwick St market (£5).

I found the Banh Mi11 stall one cold day in the lead up to Christmas. Having looked at the price and knowing my lunchtime budget, I must admit I wasn’t overly impressed at first, as I generally find a Banh Mi doesn’t leave me full so I knew I would have to order something else (I chose a mini-Pho for £3 which I thought was a genius idea).

However I soon realised my rookie error as I was handed the baguette and my hand dropped under the weight. They’d packed everything in and suffice to say I wasn’t much use in the office for the rest of the afternoon.

That day I went with the imperial bbq pork (photo below) but there is a catfish version available which looked enticing. The pork was amazing, with an almost caramel like taste and the bread was so crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, all combined with veggies and chilli sauce, it was a perfect combination.
Vietnamese baguette