Few weeks back I was telling a friend how boring lunch is when I am at the office. It is mainly sandwiches or baguette, which usually have the same type of fillings. She then said have you tried Vietnamese baguette and apparently one in the area I work. My first reaction was “Where?” and remembering how I was full of excitement to hear there is actually Vietnamese baguette (Banh mi). It is actually not new according to my friend but for me it was all so fresh for a London lady like me.
Banh Mi Bay is located on Theobalds Road which is a few minutes walk from Chancery Lane tube station. Although I would not say it is located in an eye-catching area, at lunch it is surprising to see how busy it can be. There were people dining inside and there are people standing waiting for their takeaway. It had a buzzing vibe when I first walked in to Banh Mi Bay. The smell from the char-grilled meat was really attractive.
All baguette are filled with shredded pickled carrot and mooli, sliced cucumber, coriander, fresh chilli and a choice of any of the following main filling:
- Spiced Pork
- Shredded Caramel Pork
- Pork Roll
- Vegetarian Tofu
- Bay Special (pate, spiced pork and pork roll)
- Char-grilled Chicken Satay
- Char-grilled Pork
- Char-grilled Prawn
- Char-grilled Beef
You can also get to choose whether you want brown or white bread. Each baguette are price depending on the main filling you have, which are either £3.00 or £3.50 (takeaway) and is about 50p extra if you decide to eat-in.
I choice the Bay Special baguette on white bread, which are all cold filling but tasty. The size of the baguette is like a normal French baguette, except it is not the familiar fillings you would see in London.
All the filling went well together and the coriander gave it that fragrance taste to the whole baguette. But that is what I like about coriander, although not everyone might agree with me. I find that coriander you either like it or not. The only thing I will ask to leave out would be the fresh chilli which give a kick to the baguette. However, as a person who cannot stand a spicy flavours I did found the chillies quite fiery and fortunately it was a very little sprinkle of very finely chopped chilli.
As well as ordering a baguette, I decided to try one of their range of summer rolls and went for the Bi Cuon (Caramel Pork Summer Rolls) – £3.00/£3.50. This is shredded caramel pork, vermicelli noodle, lettuce and Vietnamese herbs wrapped in rice paper. It is a refreshing snack to have which came with a nuoc mam dipping sauce. You need to dip the rolls in the sauce otherwise it lacks flavour. The only down side was I am not a fan of mint in food and in it there was a fresh mint leaf which I assume is what they refer to Vietnamese herbs. Although at the same time it was refreshing my breath!
There are a range of food to order apart from the baguette for takeaway, such as Goi (Vietnamese Salad) with a choice of topping, Vermicelli noodle salad and even rice box with you choice of meat or tofu. If you have a dessert tooth then you can try some Oriental desserts like Che Dau Trang (coconut glutinous rice with black-eyed peas) or Che Ba Mau (tapioca jelly with kidney beans, coconut cream and crushed ice).
If you eat in then you have further choice of a range of Pho noodle soup or the Banh Canh noodle soup. When I get the chance I would like to dine in and try their Pho. Now that would be a nice change to a salad or a baguette for lunch.
Drinks you are spoilt for choice with fruit smoothies, freshly made juices, iced drinks (including iced Vietnamese coffee), teas, coffees, fizzy drinks, water etc. I saw fresh soya milk on the menu but when I tried to order I was told they did not have them yet. Oh well, maybe they will have it soon when I next visit.
Banh Mi Bay
4-6 Theobalds Road,
London WC1X 8PN