Thursday 1 March 2012

Vietnamese Treats - Bánh Mì 11, Berwick Street Market, Soho

Bánn Mì 11, Berwick street market, soho
Making fresh Bánh Mì to order
Signature dish
The menu
Imperial BBQ Pork and Fish Q Bánh Mì
Imperial BBQ Pork Bánh Mì
Fish Q Bánn Mì

Growing up in Singapore, Vietnamese food is one of those cuisine that is surprising not that popular . This, despite of the fact that it is only less 3 hours flight away and is part of South East Asia. I have bought a book on Vietnamese cuisine a while back out of curiosity and have since been quite intrigue by the fantastic usage of abundant fresh, fragrant ingredients in their cooking. Up till now, Pho is probably the only dish that I'm familiar with but thanks to the magic of twitter, I have learnt of a wonderful Vietnamese street food called Bánn Mì.

What is Bánn Mì? According to my research, it is a type of popular sandwich in Vietnam. Now, I'm only using the term 'sandwich' loosely as it is way more than jet the common and mundane filling between two slices of bread that are sold in all the cafe chains across London. The classic Bánn Mì usually consists of roast or barbecue pork stuffed in a french baguette, along with some fresh coriander, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, chilli sauce and mayonnaise.

Sounds delicious, doesn't it? So when I got wind of a great pop up stall, Bánh Mì 11 in Berwick street market that does an authentic and excellent Bánn Mì yesterday, I know I've just had to give it a go. They were normally reserved only for the crowds in Broadway market in the past so this is a great opportunity. But I was way too late by the time I got there as they were closing up. So I was determined to do it again today, by all means possible.

When I got there, there was already a queue building up. Being quite new to this part of London, they've already seemed to be building up quite a huge followings. I promptly joined the queue. Now there were a lot of options on the menu and as I was pondering on what to order, I was told of their two signature dishes, the Imperial BBQ pork and the Fish Q. Still unable to decide, I bought both. A bit greedy, I know, but when in doubt.

After finding a lovely and sunny spot in golden square nearby, I sat myself down, basking in the glorious sunshine, and took a bite at the BBQ pork Bánh Mì. I was immediately hit by the sweet, tender and smoky flavour from the pork. Along with this was the slightly sharp pickled carrots, daikon and turnip, and then it was the crunchy fresh cucumber and coriander. All these were accompanied by what I thought was a delicately flavour mayonnaise, which I later found out was actually their homemade pâté. It was delicious! And the chilli sauce just gave it the additional kick that work beautifully. Even the baguette itself were crusty and fresh, another bonus point.

Next, I had the fish Bánn Mì. Not sure if this was intentional, but this time, there were more of the pickled carrots, daikon and turnip and there was also the presence of the pickled red onions. But all these just seemed to work perfectly with the delicate and mildly spiced catfish. The turmeric and galangal in the fish stood up the sweet, sour pickled vegetables and the hot spicy chilli (I did asked for a relatively spicy one). The balance of the flavours is just sensational. Once again, fresh crusty bread and fresh tasty filling. As simple and as complex as that.

If you've never had it before, I urge you to give this a go. And if you work any near Soho, this should definitely be on top of your 'where to go for lunch' list. The price ranges from £4.50 for the vegetarian tofu to £6 for the fish but what you get for you money is an excellent, fresh sandwich that will more than justified the cost. Just a quick word of warning, they were so popular that they were sold out by 2pm today even though they usually open till 3pm!

Berwick Street Market

Monday - Friday 10am - 3pm 

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