The idea of banh mi is simple: bread, protein, pate and a few sprigs of coriander. The Vietnamese-style sandwich has been popular in Brisbane for years now – every suburb has its favourite. So what’s the difference between a good banh mi and a bad banh mi?

Ashleigh Ng reckons it’s all in the bread. In 2019 Ng opened Banh Mi Now, a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop dedicated to on-the-go lunches. Ng realised early on that the tenancy would be too small to bake bread in-house, so she tried and tested 14 bakeries across greater Brisbane. The challenge was to find the lightest bread, fresh with a soft crunch. She eventually settled on Biota Hot Bread in Inala.

Ng was born in Haiphong, in Vietnam’s north, and Banh Mi Now reflects what she says is that region’s lighter style of cuisine. The pate contains more gelatine and uses cardamom instead of sugar, giving it a milder taste. It features on the three pork options available. Most popular is the crackling pork, a favourite brought over from Ng’s first venture, Arlette’s Kitchen . The meat is sliced to order and drizzled with chilli and caramel sauce. You can also try grilled pork (with garlic, honey, soy and five spice), classic pork (served cold with pork terrine), or a buddha roll made with vegan soy protein and named after Vietnamese monks who don’t eat meat or garlic.

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Updated: June 11th, 2021

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