Tag Archives: banh mi London

Chicken Satay Banh Mi at Viet Cafe, Camberwell

23 Jan

LOCATION: Viet Cafe (formerly Cafe Bay), 75 Denmark Hill,  SE5 8RS [map]

PRICE: Ummm about £2.70 ish I think. Or £3.10? I’m just plucking numbers out of the air here. It’s cheap, basically.

BREAD: Baguette.

FILLING: A skewer of chicken flavoured with a mild satay, cucumber strips, pickled daikon and carrot, coriander, sweet chilli sauce, fresh chilli.

PROS: Camberwell is basically a sandwich wasteland so Viet Cafe must be making an absolute killing. This is by no means the best banh mi in the world but it stands out a mile in an area packing only a Subway (what IS that smell that comes from Subway?) and  numerous crappy cafes. Yes I enjoyed Rock Steady Eddie’s recently but seriously, there’s a time and a place, sickos!

I’m constantly amazed that the chicken satay banh mi is so much better than all the pork banh mi and, especially and, it’s better than the banh mi special which contains all the types of pork at once. ME CONFUSE. Anyway, it’s the best so I never order anything else. It’s also good and punchy, just the way a banh mi should be. I like the sweet chilli sauce filth factor, which they then ramp up with bits of fresh chilli so by the end I’ve really worked up a proper sniffle. Banh mi never have enough chilli in general, I find, so mad props to Viet Cafe in that respect.

CONS: Well you know, it’s not anything particularly ground breaking; you’re not going to find rice flour baguettes. I kind of wish they would stop arseing about with all the tuna mayo/cheese salad/chicken and sweetcorn rubbish though and just live up to the name of Viet Cafe – shake up that hood a little. I think Camberwell may just, just about be ready…

SCORE: 7/10 (relative to everything else in the area)

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Banh Mi Special at Caphe House, Bermondsey

10 Aug

LOCATION: Caphe House, 114 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TX [map]

PRICE: £5

BREAD: White baguette

FILLING: Roast pork, ‘salty pork pate’, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber slices, red chilli, coriander, WEIRD ASS GRAVY.

PROS: Double pork.

CONS: WEIRD ASS GRAVY. Weird ass chicken tasting gravy all over my banh mi special. Sounds like a euphemism that, doesn’t it? Well, it’s meant as such. Use your imagination.

In all my banh mi eating experience I have never encountered this type of sauce. Chilli sauce? Yes. Mayonnaise? Yes. Sweet, shiny (yes, shiny) goop that tastes vaguely of chicken but mostly of something I can’t identify but which I definitely don’t like? No. Every time I take a bite it stretches out into alarming quivering strings which dangle briefly before flinging themselves suicidally against my chin.

The texture meets its match in the taste which is unique in its power to be so absent and yet so totally overwhelming. I try scraping it out with no success; the stuff has oozed into every available space. Becoming increasingly enraged at its presence I eat half the sandwich, pack the other half up in a huff and head towards home with plans to modify it once I get there. I am determined to salvage some enjoyment from this experience.

I extract as much WEIRD ASS GRAVY as possible and slap in some mayo, thinking that I might be able to at least taste the rest of the filling and judge whether or not it could actually be good sans WAG. Sadly not. The pate is barely noticeable. The pickled carrot and daikon need a lot more pickling. There’s a good amount of chilli but it isn’t hot which is baffling. Sigh.

I’m sorry Caphe House, but your banh mi isn’t up to scratch and that’s coming from someone who really tried to like it. Lose the WAG and while you’re at it lose the sweet yet ultimately pointless side salad of iceberg, carrot, sweet chilli sauce and um, prawn crackers. Mmmm dusty crackers on my salad…

SCORE: 2/10