It’s a particular variety of bánh mì, the NN chicken, that Duy Nguyen wants to his customers to try. It’s a specialty from his hometown. The chicken is marinated in a subtle blend of soy sauce, garlic and pepper, then poached, pulled and stir-fried. The rolls are finished with pickled carrot, cucumber, coriander, optional chilli and a specially made mayonnaise.
Bánh mì played an important role in Nguyen’s childhood. Living above his parents’ tiny bánh mì shop in Da Lat, Vietnam, left a lasting impression and fuelled his passion for food.
At his own shop, Nhan Ngai, lunchtime crowds queue for generously stuffed rice-paper rolls with a choice of eight fillings and six dipping sauces. The housemade pho simmers for an entire day; and the salads are available with or without the vermicelli noodles.
Nguyen is a trained barista and backs up the food with Clement espresso; classic Vietnamese coffees with condensed milk; and iced drinks such as a refreshing avocado smoothie.
He also likes to dabble in interior design. He exposed the brick walls of the former Torch Cafe, added some extra seating, rebuilt the counter and added copper piping and timber shelves before opening in 2016.