On the Asian continent of curries, noodles, stir-fries and broths, the Banh-Mi sandwich of Vietnam stands out as a marked point of difference and highlights the strong influence the French had in Vietnam. But it’s not just a standard French baguette, the Vietnamese have taken the very best of French bread and made it their own with the creation of the Banh Mi.
It used to be that there were only a handful of places that could get this sandwich right and that number is on the up. On the streets of Soho, right by Piccadilly Circus, this can be found at Whaam Banh Mi. It’s a casual sort of place, barely any seating room so it’s more of a pick up and go sort of joint, but the enthusiasm these guys show in perfecting the ultimate sandwich is infectious, keeping in with the zinging yellow decor.
I opt for the BBQ shredded pork in my Banh Mi and they are certainly not stingy with the filling. My baguette is positively stuffed with juicy meat and layered with my specific choice of condiments, including my choice of Wasabi or Lemon May, Sriracha sauce, Pate, fresh chilli and fragrant coriander. My meal deal also comes with a drink and a summer roll with it’s own little pot of Nuoc Nam sauce, making this the perfect lunch party for 1.
On a sunny day, I’d recommend taking your little box and finding yourself a spot on a park bench in the outside world to eat your sandwich and condiments whilst watching the world go by and take the time to really relish the flavours and tastes, not just munch on it as you gaze at your computer screen/ mobile device.
It was a little grey when I went, so I stayed huddled inside on the few bar stools they had, doing my people watching bit from the warmth inside. While I’m here munching away, there’s a steady stream of folk coming in for coffees and it seems that in the short time they’ve been here, they’ve made rather a name for themselves in the coffee trade. They’re sourced from the Saigon Coffee company and they do the standard coffee orders as well as a Vietnamese iced coffee, which has already been put on my order for next time!
Meandering out after my delicious lunch, I found myself just around the corner from Gelupo and having heard so much about their gelato and sorbets, I couldn’t help but turn to Twitter to ask if I should take the plunge and go in for a cheeky ice cream. Luckily, the people made absolutely the right decision for me and a few minutes later, I was relaxing with a delicious Amaretto and Apricot gelato to wolf down.
That’s pretty much what I’d call a perfect Soho lunch.
Whaam Banh Mi can be found at 40 Great Windmill Street, Soho, London W1D 7LY, less than 5 minutes from Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square tube stations. Gelupo is just around the corner on 7 Archer Street, London, W1D 7AU, ideally placed for that post-lunch ice cream.
Disclosure: My lunch at Whaam Banh Mi was complimentary in exchange for a review. As always, opinions are my own.