banh mi nhu mai
Whilst channel surfing one day, we caught the Food Truck Wars finale, where it was banh mi versus burgers. Long after the (rather mediocre) episode passed from our minds, the thought of banh mi lingered on, until one weekend we couldn’t stand it any longer and had to get our cravings fixed.
Minus a holiday in Vietnam, Girrawheen is Perth’s closest alternative (never thought I’d use the word holiday and Girrawheen in the same sentence…) for authentic, freshly made banh mi. Girrawheen has really cleaned up nicely and is an absolute goldmine of Vietnamese food. While in the area, check out the Nguyen & Phat Farmer Jack’s supermarket – it’s a Vietnamese grocer and Farmer Jack’s smashed together, with Black & Gold stuff sitting next to bundles of the cheapest Asian vegetables you’ll find anywhere.
Left: Grilled pork banh mi, which is more like a sweet pressed ham. Right: Roast pork banh mi – the pork resembles a lean Chinese barbecue pork (char siew).
Anyway, back to the banh mi. Look for the families cradling cups of sugar cane juice at the Newpark Shopping Centre and the trail will lead to an unremarkable shop. Don’t be apprehensive when you find Banh Mi Nhu Mai (squashed into a blind spot next to Commonwealth Bank) because the language barrier (oh how I wish I could speak Vietnamese) and stares of indifference are worth the banh mi, which are made fresh to order.
The footy shaped roll is filled with delicate slivers of pork (choice of grilled, pork, meatball, roast pork and if you can’t choose, combination, which includes all of them), a spread of house made pate and put under a fiercely hot grill. When the crust is crisp, shredded carrot, fluffy coriander and thick batons of cucumber are plucked from the fridge and forcibly stuffed into the bulging baguette.
The silky fat of the chunky pate is the hero of the banh mi. The smooth pork fat lubricates the bite of the astringent coriander and chillies. It’s quite a delicious combination with the sweet, grilled pork (which is a shocking shade of pink!). By the time we were finished, we were covered in shards and dust from the crusty roll. Yum.
This place is also one of the few places where fresh sugarcane is pressed and juiced, so it’s a good idea to get a cup with your roll. (Or a cafe sua dua – filtered iced coffee with condensed milk – one of my favourite caffeine hits.)
Banh Mi Nhu Mai (located on the outside of the center, next to Commonweath Bank)
Shop 1, Newpark Shopping Centre, Girrawheen WA 6064
T: (08) 9342 6888
Open 7 days, 7am – 5pm
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