In recent months I've had numerous promptings to try banh mi (did you know this word has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary). It's like a bread roll, but it's soooo good, my Vietnamese friend said. Okay, how good can a roll get, I thought. But I kept the advice in mind and stopped in Footscray yesterday to try it for the first time.
Location: 122 Hopkins St, Footscray (short walk from Footscray station - see map)
Website: urbanspoon reviews, "banh mi showdown" on a blogger's website, one of the five recommended banh mi stores on the Age (To's Bakery proudly displays the Age article on their window)
Price: $3.50 for banh mi (tofu, BBQ chicken, BBQ pork or BBQ meatball)
BBQ chicken banh mi - not sure if the bakery usually makes it fresh (we went quite late in the evening) but our rolls were premade. Regardless, bread was good, lovely golden crust with fluffy insides, and unlike some baguettes I've had, this did not require too much work to chew.
Let's have a look on the inside (see below)! The meat was chicken chunks, with flavours quite similar to a lemon grass chicken chop at any Vietnamese restaurant. Sweetish, picked carrots and daikon, coriander, and chunks of chilli. Loved it, generous servings of the filling, and all the flavours worked together really well. But I will probably be more careful with the red chilli next time - had a bite of one accidently and I was in agony.
Other: for awhile I couldn't figure out the name of the bakery, because it has no signage outside. Why should it, my friend said, everyone knows where it is. Other foods on offer include desserts, snacks, and some strange looking hot foods. One looked like a giant mushroom but was apparently a sweet flour based dessert. I may have offended the lady by asking about it and saying, hmm maybe next time.
Rating: 4/5 great value and taste at a cheap price. Definitely better than Subway. I'm surprised this isn't being sold in Melbourne CBD - similar to sushi and Vietnamese rice paper rolls, banh mi makes great on-the-go food. Will try other stores and compare.