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May 8, 2020
Habits

Just one thing… at Banh Mi Café

Spoiler alert: it's vegan and very tasty.

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  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins

COVID-19 has totally upended what we consider good hospitality.

With dining-in banned, restaurant patrons can no longer be swayed by fancy crockery or caring and attentive wait staff.

In the takeaway economy, these factors are superfluous. What matters now is simple – the food.

Remarks

Banh Mi Café
2/184-188 Henley Beach Road, Torrensville 5031
Mon—Fri: 8.30am ’til 4.30pm
Saturday: 9am ’til 4pm

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There are two weighty factors one must consider when deciding where to eat out: is the meal fit for travel, and, given it will likely come in a paper bag, is it worth the price?

Since the dawn of Vietnamese migration to Australia, the most consistently worthy lunch option when considering these factors has been banh mi. And one of CityMag‘s all-time favourites is Banh Mi Café in Torrensville.

Hung Nguyen opened the all-day Vietnamese deli seven years ago, with classics like the bún bowls (rice vermicelli noodle salads topped with spring rolls) and banh mi (toasted French baguette stuffed with vegetables and meat) going off among regular clientele.

But Banh Mi Café is particularly well known for its vegan options. There is no metropolitan suburb too far for Adelaide’s plant-based community to travel from for the café’s meat- and dairy-free delights.

Hung tells CityMag he expanded from the stock-standard lemongrass tofu banh mi to include vegan renditions of shredded barbecue pork and chicken when he realised there was demand for it.

“People just wanted more,” he says

The menu’s other offerings, such as pho, stews and salads were also adapted to suit vegan and vegetarian requirements.

Hung Nguyen at his station, where CityMag visits him every Saturday morning

 

The pulled-pork vegan five-spice banh mi is a religious experience. And the $10.50 deal, which includes the sandwich, a can of Coke and three spring rolls, is a no-brainer. Every element travels well and, all together, is worth every penny.

The banh mi is stuffed with pickled carrot, slices of cucumber, and fresh red and pickled white onion, but the ingredient we’ve come all the way here for, the plant-based pulled pork, is shredded, gooey and sweet.

Flecks of pepper break up the saccharine flavour and the five-spice (cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise and Szechwan peppercorns) give it an interesting twist.

The challenge is to not rush it. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to slow down and enjoy the little things. Even if that thing is a delicious sandwich eaten while wandering around a car park.

All possible first bites must be assessed before digging in

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