The Bánh mì Revolution
If there is one thing that has flipped dining on its head, it’s the rise of street food. From the food trucks of New York City, the food markets in London to the street vendors of Shanghai; the great value, accessibility and downright tasty options offered by street food has totally transformed how we eat.
Amidst all the different cuisines on offer, we’ve fallen in love with a certain Vietnamese sandwich that has been creating quite a stir over the last couple of years in the city of London. We discovered this delightful hoagie through our travels in Asia. Indulging in our curiosity, we found out that it was a Vietnamese Bánh mì — a traditional Vietnamese sandwich, prepared on a crusty French baguette that was introduced during the colonial period and filled with a delicious mix of crunchy pickled vegetables, topped with meats or tofu, and garnished with cucumber, chilli and coriander. It’s fresh, healthy, a little spicy and absolutely delicious.
Over the past decade the Bánh mì sandwich has easily garnered the status of one of the most popular sandwiches in the U.S through the Vietnamese migrant population. Food trucks and shops selling Bánh mì, started springing up in different parts of the USA such as, Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, San Jose, Los Angeles and even New Orleans, rivalling the legendary po' boy.
Our Frenchnamese concept at MoBa in London, (which stands for Modern Bánh mì ) focuses on fresh ingredients that have emerged from Vietnamese street food such as lemongrass, ginger and mint and apprehends French cooking techniques such as sautéing and braising. We mainly use the braising technique to slow cook our Beef and Pork for 6 hours, which allows the meat to soak up the marinade and be delivered to you with the most amount of moisture and flavour.
Vietnamese cooks try to have vibrant colors in their dishes, and we at MoBa support that by infusing our freshly baked baguettes with the likes of Matcha (Green Baguette) and Bamboo charcoal (Black Baguette) that compliment the Vietnamese cooks vision of color. As Vietnamese food is greatly admired for being one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide, we emphasize on the minimal use of dairy, and oil and we rely on herbs and vegetables.
Black Bamboo Charcoal Baguette, White Baguette and the Matcha Baguette at MoBa
Since discussing the up-rise of the Bánh mì revolution in London we have asked Tom ( the owner of Whaam Bánh mì), to give us his thoughts behind the Bánh mì revolution and here’s what he had to say:
“I think most people see Banh mi as a sandwich. Our motto is every Banh mi is a sandwich but not every sandwich is a Bánh mì. There's a common trend you'll see that anyone who's been traveling through Vietnam usually mention the food. It's a food loving country and if one was to describe the Vietnamese cuisine in just a few words it would echo something along the lines of fresh, zingy and healthy. Banh mi are flexible with their main filling but yet like a brand, you'll always find similar ingredients within. A proper Bánh mì should always work back from the bread, which is surprisingly hard to master. I've always loved experimenting with sandwiches and when I found a sandwich as malleable as the Bánh mì, I knew I wanted to push the boundaries and see how far it would go. My staff always thank me for introducing them to Bánh mì and I love how excited people are to discover it. I get to see that every day. There can't be too many professions where you give “food" orgasms to people you've never met!“
When it comes down to the popularity of the Bánh mì, like most things it seems, the US leads the charge, but what you probably won't know is just how big Vietnamese food is in Australia. Both Sydney and Melbourne are very well equipped with Saigon Street Food, with one noodle bar producing over 800 servings for lunchtime each day! With all these choices popping up all over the world, we at MoBa are certain that Londoners won’t have to yearn for the unattainable Bánh mì for much longer. In fact on a personal level we crave a Bánh mì so much that you might even say that we’ve developed some kind of an addiction for this sandwich. But if loving Bánh mì is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
The MoBa Boyz