Banh Mi & Bros is a new, small eatery specialising in the much-loved Vietnamese street-food specialty, the banh mi sandwich. Diners can enjoy the tasty remnants of French colonialism in chic surrounds with prices not too much higher than you might find on the streets of Saigon. Brent Crane spoke with French co-founder Adrien Deshays to get the scoop on his casual little bistro.
What is Banh Mi & Bros?
Banh Mi & Bros is a new venue offering tasty and healthy sandwiches. We offer seven different sandwiches ($2.80 to $4.50), as well as chicken curry soup ($3.75), beef stew ($3.75) and homemade desserts ($1 to $2.50). We also plan to come up with new sandwich recipes for special occasions and work with a French bakery for our baguettes. The idea is to bring the Vietnamese street food item into a clean, hygienic environment, with good service and a price as affordable as possible.
Who brought this idea to life and how?
Banh Mi & Bros is the story of four childhood friends who wanted to open a business together. The chef, Ben, worked for four years cooking French cuisine in Shanghai. Ben got in touch with three childhood friends, Daff, Sebastien and me, Adrien, who were living in Cambodia. While Ben was creating the sandwich recipe, Daff, Seb and I analysed the Cambodian market and looked for an available place to open the restaurant. Once we found it, it took about two months to renovate the place. We finally opened in March. By coincidence, we have heard from friends that banh mis have become popular in Paris recently.
Do you have a special twist on the normal banh mi?
The classic banh mi found in Saigon can be simplified as bread, cha (pork sausage) pate and sliced daikon and pickled carrot. Banh Mi & Bros rearranged the banh mi, which is heavy, with a lot of meat, in order to create more freshness. We import the cha from Vietnam, home-make the pate as well as the mayonnaise and changed out the pickles for a crudité of lettuce and cucumber. We integrate Asian favourites such as Chinese-style caramelised pork, chicken satay, lemongrass beef and fish amok.
What do you hope the place becomes down the line?
We expect our sandwich shop to become a popular place to have lunch for people working and living in the area. But we also expect to welcome after-work meet-ups, as we offer beer, wine and cocktails and plan to offer gourmet appetisers soon. The ideal customer would be someone who wants to enjoy tasty and affordable food with fast and friendly service in a comfortable and modern atmosphere. Everybody is warmly welcomed to our sandwich bistro!
Banh Mi & Bros is located at #157 Street 63 and open seven days a week 8am to midnight. Tel: 085 400 880. Interview edited for length and clarity.