One of the absolute best sandwiches of my life was a Vietnamese Banh Mi, eaten in New York’s Chinatown with my great friend Hegsie two years ago. This food came about as a result of French colonialism in Vietnam – it’ s a French-style baguette combined with fresh, spicy Vietnamese ingredients, and is both delicious and cheap. The version we got in Chinatown cost about $2.60 and I still think of it with abiding love today.
I have waited impatiently for the banh mi trend to catch on here (enough burritos! more Vietnamese!). And so I was really delighted to find out recently that Aobaba, a new place on Capel St is serving not only banh mi but also Vietnamese soups such as pho, alongside bubble tea*. (Big thanks to @hapawawa on Twitter for the tip). I nipped in there for lunch recently and was really impressed with the food and the prices.
My banh mi, with Vietnamese pork roll, coriander leaves, grated carrot, fresh chilli and Vietnamese pate was €4. A cup of Pho was €3.50, or a full bowl cost €5.50. A cup and the sandwich made for a very satisfying lunch that I couldn’t quite finish.
I had thought that Pho was a richly beefy broth, but the version at Aobaba came in a quite mild, thin broth that was not particularly flavoursome but was very comforting and warming. The sandwich fillings were fantastic, very fresh and spicy. The bread was a little chewy and I thought it could have been fresher, but was impressed when the lady behind the counter apologised without me even mentioning it – she said that as it was a Sunday, the bread had been baked the day before and is always fresh during the week. I’ll definitely be back for lunch again. There’s three or four varities of soup, spring rolls, summer rolls with rice paper and a choice of fillings for your banh mi. Hurray!
Have you tried Aobaba? What do you think?
*By the way, can someone please explain bubble tea to me? Do you eat the bubbles? Does it taste of tea or is it like a milkshake or a smoothie or what? Aobaba had such a range of types and flavours that I got too bewildered to order any.