You don’t have to go to Footscray or Richmond, let alone Hanoi, for Vietnam’s classic warm baguette sandwich. Here are our favourite spots for banh mi in the CBD, plus Carlton’s crunchy, zingy all-day breakfast surprise.
Although it’s tucked down Tivoli Arcade, VB Rolls is super popular with city workers, who queue out the door at lunchtime. Their eight great banh mi, including the Quack Me Up roast duck with hoisin sauce, are only $7 or $8. Plus there’s the legendary $11 lunch combo of grilled chicken or pork banh mi and any rice paper roll and drink. Get in quick to beat that queue!
The atmosphere is electric at Parco Canteen! This former substation on a traffic island near Carlton’s Argyle Square is now a little breakfast and lunch hot spot. Get energised by the all-day breakfast banh mi: fried egg, maple-glazed bacon, miso mayo, pickled carrot and coriander in a brioche bun. Yum!
As you’d expect from an eatery in the well-heeled Emporium, this place does pho-nom-enal Vietnamese hawker food with contemporary style. For starters, Pho Nom use local, natural, ethical ingredients, including Milawa free range poultry. So all seven of their banh mi are good in every way, from crispy pork belly to grilled lemongrass chicken.
Homi Noodle Bar
It’s street food with street cred at Homi Noodle Bar. Check out the cool neon-lit fit-out, dope beats and modern Vietnamese dishes you’ve never heard of but know you want. Then there’s the lunchtime banh mi, which take a decadent detour through the USA. Are you gonna go the Southern fried chicken with mixed veg and Buffalo sauce? Or the cheeseburger banh mi with a beef patty, cheese, lettuce and mac sauce?
With nine banh mi to choose from at Ba’get, you might raise a sweat even before you go the extra chilli. Say good morning Vietnam with the breakfast banh mi’s bacon-and-eggy goodness. Then munch through the rest during a series of seriously good lunches, from the veggie Buddha’s tofu to grilled meatball.
Uncle Collins St
Contemporary Vietnamese flavours await at the ‘Paris End’ of Collins Street in the CBD offshoot of a St Kilda original. Uncle Collins St has turned former office space into a smart, airy restaurant, where there’s three banh mi on the menu. Can’t decide between the tempura fish, crispy pigs ear or tofu? They’re all less than $8, so just keep coming back for more banh mi!
Heartbaker Bun Mee
We’ve found some of the best banh mi in town in a little Vietnamese cafe hidden down little Scott Alley. Heartbaker Bun Mee has six fresh, flavoursome versions, including Crazy Delish Crispy Pork and Dreamy Creamy Caramelised Tofu. Don’t worry if you don’t nab one of the few tiny tables – this street food is good to go.