During exams season, I pretty much locked myself up in the library, slaving away from morn to night trying to cram as much as I could. I find it incredibly distracting to study in my bedroom, as it is too comfortable and the temptations of social media is too high. That’s why I find going to the library a much more productive use of my time because it is a quiet environment that sets the mood for studying with facilities that help you. The problem, however, is that you have to come prepared because there usually isn’t food nearby so you can’t just buy lunch or a study snack when you get hungry.
On 2 occasions I dropped by 2 different Vietnamese restaurants near my local library to buy a banh mi to accompany my studies. The first day, I planned on dropping by Au Petit Cafe for a delicious banh mi. I’ve frequented Au Petit Cafe before as their banh mi are considered some of the best in town. I’d have to agree. However, good thing I checked Urbanspoon before leaving the house because turns out, they are closed on Wednesdays! It was SUCH a disappointment because I was craving a banh mi so bad. In the end, I settled for another Vietnamese restaurant, Bon Cafe, that also serves banh mi.
At Bon Cafe, I ordered a Banh Mi Dat Biet (around $4, CASH ONLY). The banh mi includes ham, pate, and the usual various veggies.
I didn’t feel like they skimped out on the fillings, and the ingredients all tasted delicious! However, the meat inside had a lot of fat. I normally don’t mind fat if it is well proportioned to the meat but here I found big globs of it randomly in the banh mi which I had to pick out… gross. Unfortunately, the French bread was not nearly as good as the one from Au Petit Cafe. The bread here was perhaps toasted for too long or not as fresh as it was crunchy to the point where it was too hard. (LOL) After a while, the top of my mouth hurt from having the bread scraping against it.
Overall, the banh mi is quite good, but if they could improve their bread then all the better. I would definitely come again if Au Petit Cafe is not open or the lines are too long.
The next day, I went to Au Petit Cafe since they were open and I couldn’t help but crave a better banh mi than the one I had yesterday at Bon Cafe.
I ordered #1, the French Bread with Home Made Ham, House Meat Ball, Vegetable, and Hot Pepper ($4.50). I was also given the option to not have the hot pepper, which I appreciated since not everyone can stand the heat. While I believe the banh mi at Au Petit Cafe is slightly more expensive, I’d gladly pay the extra $0.50 for a more scrumptious banh mi.
Upon first bite you can tell that the french bread here was fresh, aromatic, and toasted perfectly so that the outside was nice and crunchy but the inside remained warm and soft. The meats are all house made and oh-so-flavourful. In comparison, the fat in the meats were well distributed and enhanced the flavours of the meat, rather than accumulating into a blob and grossing me out.
Overall, I’d say perfection nicely describes this banh mi. My stomach is literally growling as I type!
I think it’s safe to say that banh mi in general is delicious, but the crown winner here is Au Petit Cafe. The key to a perfect banh mi is in the bread and boy did Au Petit Cafe get that spot on. While not bad, the banh mi at Bon Cafe clearly still has some work to go. I’d love to try some of their phos next time as well. Readers, have you guys tried banh mi before?
Thanks for reading!