In recent months, two new Bánh mì stalls have opened in Fort Bonifacio. One is Bánh Mì Kitchen ("BMKN") at Stopover Pavilion, the other is BONBanhmi at 9th Avenue's Wumaco Building under a staircase. Bánh mì is a sandwich that is eaten as a staple food in Vietnam, a country which was under French occupation from 1887 to 1954. The bread used is a French baguette, which is a bread known for being chewy inside and crispy outside.
We tried their classic Bánh mì, both at P99 per order, and below are our observations.
Left: BONBanhmi's Traditional Banhmi, regular size; Right: Banh Mi Kitchen's Classic, small size; both at P99 each
The size of BONBanhmi's banhmi is easily twice the size of BMKN's. The difference is substantial.
BONBanhmi's banhmi has three types of sliced Vietnamese sausages as meat filling, while BMKN's is roast pork, something that looks and tastes like Chinese barbeque pork. It also puts a thin pate spead on it, and we could hardly taste it. We think that Bon Banhmi uses more unique Vietnamese filling since the sliced cold cut meat is not available elsewhere and they give the sandwich a light but interesting texture and flavor. The vegetables used in the sandwiches of BONBanhmi are daikon and carrots, and they are cut long and a little bit thick. BMKN uses finer cut of carrots and daikon. Both have a lot of cilantro inside.
Both use decent baguette, very chewy inside, but BMKN's cooking method gives a more crispy texture to the exterior of the bread. BONBanhmi's staff puts the whole sandwich in the oven for toasting after he finished putting the filling in. BMKN toasts the top piece of the sandwiches while the filling is put in the lower sandwich. The toasting time is longer, but it does not dry up the content of the sandwich.
The sauce used in BMKN's sandwich is Hoisin sauce, which is sweet, sour and tangy. It adds a lot to the flavor of the ingredients. The crispiness of BMKN's bread is also a winner. Even though Bon Banhmi uses good Vietnamese cold cut, the taste winner in our view is BMKN.
Both shops are mainly designed for takeout food consumption. BMKN's stall occupies a small space in the ground floor of Stopover Pavilion. It does not provide any table for customers to eat there, but in Stopover Pavilion, there are benches for people to sit around. Even though BONBanhmi's stall is located underneath a staircase, it manages to squeeze in a long table, so that up to three customers can eat there while standing.
While BMKN wins on taste, it loses on value for money. If BONBanhmi is prepared to tweak its cooking process, and grill the top sandwich better, and use better flavored sauce, it can catch up and become the overall winner. What is your experience of Banh Mi in Fort Bonifacio?