When Brits return home from Asia, they rave about the street food they tried on their travels… so it seems logical that London’s restaurant scene is working hard to recreate some of the favourite fast food enjoyed so much abroad.
As the name suggests, Whaam Bahn Mi celebrates the Vietnamese sandwiches (‘banh mi’) enjoyed on the streets of Ho Chi Minh. Tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus, this cheerful takeaway café provides the workers of Soho with an exotic lunch offering.
Operating only as a takeaway, this characterful little venue only has a few menu choices. There are five banh mi on offer which can be accompanied by the side salads or fresh summer spring rolls. Founder Tom Barlow spent time in Vietnam researching and trying the authentic banh mi snacks so he could offer the real deal in London.
The fluffy baguettes are filled with the slow-cooked filling of your choice and loaded with pate, pickled shredded carrot and mooli radish, cucumber, coriander, crispy shallots and red chilli. It is a wonderful assortment of flavours and textures. We chose to try the Luc Lac beef brisket and the BBQ shredded pork, though chicken, fishcakes and tofu are also available. Both meats were delicious – tender and rich in flavour thanks to the slow cooking technique. The extras were tasty too, though I found the chicken liver pate a little overpowering. These sandwiches need to be eaten quick – we found after five minutes that the bread became sloppy and was increasingly difficult to eat.
Whaam Banh Mi offers a friendly service and a lovely cultural lunch option for the arty Soho crowd. I’m visiting Vietnam later this year and can’t wait to try a banh mi in its original context.
More information here: www.whaambanhmi.com