The best banh mi sandwiches in Auckland
Banh mi is one of the few beautiful things to come out of an unhappy arranged marriage between Vietnam and colonialist France. The French brought their baguettes, liver pate and mayonnaise, and the Vietnamese their pickles, fresh herbs, and chilli.
Fast-forward 130 years and you will find banh mi everywhere in Vietnam, and the town of Hoi An boasts some of the best. Banh mi has managed to make its way all over the world, and where once you could only find it at a lone store at the top of Dominion Road 10 years ago, now it seems you can find banh mi just about anywhere in Auckland.
When we heard from all of you who you thought made the best banh mi, we heard the sirens’ call to find out for ourselves (with your help of course). For those less well acquainted with this sandwich, you may be asking, what makes a banh mi the best?
We were judging on the crispness of the baguette (do note that the authentic kind from the likes of La Voie Française is hard to come across in Auckland); the use of fresh herbs such as coriander and spring onion; how flavourful the meat and pate is, and the overall effect as we take one down with our chompers. Most banh mi will also feature thinly sliced cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon radish, and butter. Sadly none of the sandwiches we tried featured herbs other than coriander, like Vietnamese mint (which, by the way, grows really well in Auckland; I have a bush currently trying to take over my garden).
We were looking for that tricky but beautiful balance of textures, flavours and sensations; the piquant heat of chilli juxtaposed with refreshing cucumber; the crunch and chew of a great baguette and the velvety textures of pate and perfectly cooked meat; the savoury, the sweet and the sour. The banh mi is the king of sandwiches, so without further ado, I give you our line-up of the best banh mi in Auckland (and the rest).
May-Lee Wong (MW)
Lynn Huhtala (LH)
Our top picks:
Vietnamese Delight (MW)
Combination banh mi, $10.
A crunchy baguette with very flavoursome pork belly and just enough gravy to keep things moist and tasty but not soggy. I liked the traditional but hard to come by addition of Vietnamese sausage. Quality mayonnaise and pate was used and also comes with the usual suspects of cucumber, pickled carrot, coriander and spring onion. Their home-made chilli sauce provided a nice little kick without overpowering everything else. Vietnamese Delight was generous with their fillings, especially the coriander. Theirs was one of the best banh mi tested. Generous and well proportioned with the right balance of flavour and freshness.
Atrium on Elliott food court
21-25 Elliott Street
(09) 309 3339
SEN Vietnamese Kitchen & Bar (LH)
Lemongrass chicken and pork banh mi, $11.50 each.
Sen’s banh mi had all the right elements of a crunchy baguette, tasty pate, succulent fragrant lemongrass chicken in one sandwich and juicy pork in the other. The addition of pickled carrot and loads of coriander made Sen’s banh mi another one of our favourites.
26 Normanby Road
(09) 630 5790
Love Exposure (LH)
Lemongrass chicken and grilled pork belly banh mi, $13.90 each.
The baguette was fresh, the meat tender and delicious, and the sandwich included pickled carrot and daikon radish, garnished with coriander and crushed peanuts. The pate could use some oomph but the grilled meat included in the sandwiches were stellar.
191 Dominion Road, Mt Eden
Nam Nam (LH)
Lemongrass chicken and grilled pork banh mi $10.50 each.
We ordered a lemongrass chicken and a grilled pork banh mi and were rewarded with a fresh baguette, tasty meat, pate and a good serve of salad items. A great banh mi, particularly if you live on the Shore.
8 Huron Street, Takapuna
(09) 488 0055
Lemongrass chicken banh mi, $8.50.
Saigonz toasts their baguette and fills it with a generous amount of lemongrass chicken and sweet pickled carrot and julienned cucumber. Finished with homemade pate and mayonnaise and topped with coriander and a homemade tomato sauce, it sings in the mouth.
105/40 Beach Road, Downtown Auckland
0800 724 4669
Drips and Dough (LH)
Lemongrass chicken and barbecued pork banh mi, $8.90 each for dough-luxe size.
Drips and Dough offers two sizes of banh mi (dough-minion and dough-luxe). Drips and Dough’s version doesn’t stray too far from its origins, with a crunchy baguette, carrot and radish pickle, cucumber, shredded spring onion and coriander, butter and pate. We ordered the lemongrass chicken and BBQ pork which were flavourful and generous. But maybe a little too generous when it came to the carrot.
991 Dominion Road, Mt Roskill
(09) 600 2421
Bun Mee Kiwi (LH)
Grilled pork ‘bun mee’, $10.50.
For something that is ‘same same but different’, head out west to Bun Mee Kiwi for banh mi with a Kiwi twist. Bun Mee Kiwi has an extensive array of banh mi to choose from, but we honed in on their more traditional offering of the grilled pork ‘bun mee’. This came with pate, pickled carrots and daikon radish, cucumber, coriander, house-made mayo, sriracha sauce and unusually, jalapeño. The pork was fantastic; juicy and redolent with star anise, with crispy crackling on top. Unfortunately there was too much mayo and not enough vege and herbs for our liking.
24 Henderson Valley Road
And the rest:
Hello Mister (LH)
Large grilled pork banh mi, $10. Small for $6.
There are three locations around Auckland, and we ordered the large grilled pork banh mi from the Hardinge Street restaurant. Hello Mister’s banh mi is a classic rendition featuring pate, cucumber, pickled carrots, coriander, spring onion, mayonnaise with the option of adding chilli or Sriracha chilli sauce. Unfortunately the pork was placed on top of the salad and herbs, wilting them, and the pickled carrots were unpleasantly sour.
5B Hardinge Street
(09) 365 2566
29A Customs Street, CBD
(09) 303 0522
1A Faraday Street
(09) 303 4555
Fusion Café (MW)
Pork banh mi, $12
Fusion Café’s pork banh mi starts with a golden, crunchy, but not special baguette. Inside there was slow cooked pork belly which was sadly not very tasty. The liver pate however had a nice flavour to it. The pickled carrot had a good balance of sweet and sour and fresh thinly sliced chilli was a nice, warming addition. But the amount of coriander was measly and there was no spring onion, the cucumber having to do most of the work to refresh the palate. A rather bland banh mi wanting more fresh ingredients, especially given the price.
32 Jervois Road
(09) 378 4573
Banh Mi Delight Vietnamese Street Food (LH)
Pork banh mi, $7.50
You will find Banh Mi Delight, a food truck run by a lovely Vietnamese lady, outside LynnMall in New Lynn. Most of the usual suspects were there: pate, cucumber, carrots, spring onion, mayo, chilli sauce, and a garnishing of coriander. However the baguette was rather generic and not quite on par with some of the other banh mi we had tried. The pork was thinly sliced and a bit fatty. The sandwich also contained a processed style of sausage, and although it was not to my taste, is a common ingredient in banh mi in Vietnam.
2 Memorial Drive, Lynn Mall
021 143 9503
Eat Mi (MW)
Coconut braised pork banh mi $9.90
Eat Mi has large number of different banh mi fillings to choose from, and wanting to try something a little different, I ordered the coconut braised pork banh mi. Coconut braised pork is a traditional Vietnamese dish in its own right, and I was intrigued to find out how it would fare sandwiched within a baguette. The aforementioned baguette was crunchy albeit generic, but the braised pork was moist and very tasty. Sadly the mayonnaise was the nasty kind, almost gel-like and overly sweet. Although pate was listed as being in the sandwich, this had been forgotten and its absence was noticeable. The coriander was scant and the addition of Sriracha chilli sauce overpowered everything else.
36 Remuera Road, Newmarket, (09) 551 1388 https://eatmi.co.nz/
This was a collaborative review written with Cheap Eats.