In search of London’s best sandwich since sliced bread
July calls for fresh, transcendent flavours and tastes that transport to far away lands where the sun scorches like a blowtorch and the food enchants like a Disney film. Given that Londonist’s budget doesn’t stretch to international flights we’re going to have to find some summery, bread encased flavours in London. Luckily, this isn’t hard. So in one short column we are going to take you on a voyage of discovery to Vietnam, via Greenwich.
We went in search of “Baguette + More” which is a sandwich just down the road from Café Rouge in the uncovered Fountain Market. They serve a wide range of fine looking Oriental baguettes, but it was their bánh mì that inspired us to cycle for 40 minutes on a damp and rainy Saturday. If Michelin base their award system on how far you’d drive for a good meal, then we are thinking of developing a new rating system for sandwich shops which is based on how far you’d cycle in the rain for one!
Bánh mì is pretty trendy right now as you’ll see from this Time Out article. This is partly because they are so tasty . But more importantly, because they are harder to find than a green shoot in the depths of a recession. You’ll find forums on Chowhound dedicated to unearthing them in London - but only a handful of places sell them. Fellow sandwich enthusiast, Helen from Food Stories, encountered a Banh Mi at Café Bay and An American in London has reviewed a stall in Broadway Market called Banhmi11 .
The bánh mì from Baguette + More is lovingly hand made by a woman from the spiritual home of the bánh mì, in Southern Vietnam. She makes all the constituent parts herself and uses chopsticks to carefully place each of the numerous tasty elements in a wholemeal baguette that they bake in their van. She first “buttered” the baguette with some homemade chicken and pork liver pate. Next she added a layer of flabby slices of “pork ham” (cha lua) neatly on top which resembled the luncheon meat reserved for people who are still addicted to ration food. Pork belly appeared next, with a skin that was more orange than Jody Marsh in RAC overalls. The garish colouration is purely for the eyes and had a slightly rubbery quality that is much sought after in Oriental food. Pickled shards of shredded carrot daintily gave the baguette the freshness of a Vietnamese summer roll. A length of cucumber, a gregarious sprinkling of chilli, a few tufts of coriander and a splash of Maggi sauce finished the elaborate process.
The result was a complex baguette that balanced the satisfying thump of pork and bread with the zing of pickled carrots and freshness of cucumber and depth of pate. This is the most multi-dimensional and attractive sandwich we have encountered to date. It was definitely worth the damp bicycle ride and has got us hooked to the addictive qualities of the bánh mì.
You will also find bánh mì here:Café Bay Banzi Banhmi11 Caphe House