Bahn Mi Bay – A Vietnamese in Holborn

So, I am writing for a new food magazine called “Good Things”, which launches at the end of the year (so keep your eyes peeled for this!). We had a mini team meeting last month with just myself, Meena, Alice, and Courtney – obviously there was food and drink involved.20131016_213438We went to Bahn Mi Bay, which is a Vietnamese restaurant near Holborn and Chancery Lane. The restaurant had a very French rustic chic feel to it.

We decided on sharing a number of starters and a number of mains between us. I am a true believer of sharing dishes, maybe this comes from growing up in Indonesia and being half Chinese – we Asians love to share. It means we get to try more!

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We started with Banh Mi Thit Heo Nuong (£4.95) to share, which was the “in” thing this spring 2013 – popping up all over London from the very trendy Soho, the City for people to eat at lunch, and even in the sandwich francise EAT. The Banh Mi is a baguette that is filled with pickled carrot and mooli, sliced cucumber, coriander, fresh chilli and a choice of a main baguette filling – we chose the grilled pork. The bread was crisp of the outside and the Vietnamese flavours of BBQ meat and fish sauce on the inside went very well together.

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We obviously ordered the Summer Rolls, as it is my favourite. We tried out the Bi Cuon (£4.40), which is shredded caramel pork, rice vermicelli, lettuce and Vietnamese herbs wrapped in rice paper and served with nuoc mam (fish sauce with chili) dipping sauce. Very different from the usual prawn filling and hoi sin dipping sauce that I usually order. It had a different flavour to it and the pork very much over-powered it compared to what we were used to. I would definitely stick to the prawn summer rolls next time.

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We tried the Nem Nuong (£7), which are a grilled Vietnamese pork meat ball that is served with rice vermicelli noodles and salad and rice paper wraps for your to wrap up together yourself and dip in a peanut and hoi sin sauce. We didn’t do the wrapping, but we did eat the meatballs which tasted very much like the mediterranean kebab meatballs. Wonderfully flavoursome.

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And finally, we had Cha Gio (£4.50), a Vietnamese Sping Roll that is filled with fried pork and prawn and wrapped in a tofu based skin and there is lettuce to wrap up the roll and the nuoc mam sauce to dip. The outside was beautifully crisp and browned and the inside was soft and piping hot and again, full of flavour.

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Then the mains came. And yes, we did have pho (pronouced FUR). We had the original Bo Tai Pho (£7.50), which is the rare beef that is placed on the noodles right before the boiling hot beef broth is poured over to cook it. The broth of a pho is always my favourite bit – everyone makes theirs differently depending on what extra sauces and spices they decide to put into it. It is a great dish for the winter weather.
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And of course we had Bun (pronouced BOON) – we chose the Thit Heo Bun (£7.50), which is covered with a lovely chargrilled garlic pork. This had a wonderful taste of summer to it with the layers of salad on the bottom, then the vermicelli noodles and then the chargrilled pork on the top. You pour the chili and fish sauce mixture into the bowl and then mix it all up to make a delicious noodle salad and the chargrilled pork gives it a wonderful flavour of a summer bbq.
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The last noodle dish we got was a stir fried flat rice noodle with seasonal vegetables and chicken (£7), which is called Hu Tieu Xao and is very similar to the Chinese Ho Fun noodles.
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As Alice is more of a rice lover than a noodle lover, we also got some rice with chargrilled satay chicken – Ga Sate Nuong (£7.50). The chicken for the satay was cooked perfectly and not dry at all – which is what I worry about when I order chicken in restaurants.
The service was great and the waitress was very helpful and the food was good. I would definitely recommend for a dinner after work if you work around the area. And apparently they do great cocktails as well! Tables were filled up and it was a good atmosphere.
Watch out for the Good Things magazine!
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