In the ’90s and early ’00s, fusion food meant white chefs making expensive fine dining food. Now, gladly, it also means croissants stuffed with spam and eggs; Viet-style poutine or a banh mi loaded with smoked brisket or soft shell crab and pickles.
Louis Tu and Cuong Nguyen (Hello Auntie) have just opened Banh Meats & Co., a Burwood takeout joint that blends the food from pork roll shops, milk bars and modern cafe cuisine. “The demographics [of chefs and restaurateurs] are younger, the rules have changed. People aren't focused on ‘you can't do that, you can do this’. It's just – is it tasty?” says Nguyen.
The crux of the idea is reflected in the name banh (bread), meats and company. First you pick your bread (roll or baguette), then your meat (anything from soft shell crab, to fried eggplant and roast pork) and then your company (potato gems, chicken ribs, fries and even a cup of pork crackling). “Our motto is restaurant-quality fast food and we want to give it to you cheap,” says Nguyen. A roll with the works plus a drink is $15 while a salad roll is just $3.50. Tu says they were both inspired by LA’s food culture, where fusion food is much more common in casual venues.
Instead of a roll, you can also just point at what you want and mix it all together. It could be chips covered in beef brisket and pork crackling, or a tub of potato gems fried with spam. “We’re also doing breakfasts mixing Vietnamese and tradie culture. Instead of ham-and-cheese croissants, we’ll have spam-and-egg croissants, chip butties, toasties with s'mores. They won’t be on the menu, it’ll be whatever you see in the window,” says Nguyen.
Visually it looks like a classic to modern cafe trends, all black and white tiles and a wooden menu board. There’s coffee too but more exciting is the cake shake. “You pick a cake, we pop it in and blend it. Cake shake,” says Nguyen.
Banh Meats & Co.
Shop 5, 11-15 Deane Street, Burwood
Mon to Fri 6am–4pm