Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nhu Lan, Footscray by Big Fil

Bahn Mi are one of the world’s great sandwiches.  A mix of fresh Vietnamese flavours and French style pate and bread, you can find them all over town but where can you find the best?  I have a couple of favourite places, one in Springvale and the other in St Albans, both hopefully to be the subject of future blog posts.  We’d rarely had them in Footscray though, and it was time to try out Nhu Lan, reportedly the home of the best Bahn Mi in the west


We were a bit fortunate to find the place though, as of course I’d neglected to write down either the name or address of the bakery.  Searching around for the best part of twenty minutes to determine where the locals appeared to be heading eventually led to a fairly non-descript looking place, with the usual bakery out the back and already sliced meats and vegetables waiting to assembled together at the front.  Comparatively early in the morning it was still very quiet but the number of staff hanging around was an obvious indication it would get much busier later in the day.

For anyone who hasn’t had bahn mi before, think of a small white French bread loaf, crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle.  Add margarine, pate, several vegetables and choice of meat (usually grilled pork for me) and you have something which sounds very simple but which can have great depth of flavour, all for just a handful of coins. 

What were our bahn mi like at Nhu Lan?  To be honest good but not quite what either Snooze or myself had been hoping for.  That said they did have some good points.  The roll gave a satisfying crunch when bitten into, and the pate, sadly neglected in a lot of bahn mi, was creamy in texture and added much welcome bite.

On the other hand, there were a few things I thought could be improved.  While I liked my grilled pork Snooze felt like her chicken may have been sitting in the tray for a little while (possibly because they weren’t yet busy), and both could have been a bit more generous in terms of serving size.  My bun was a little crushed, and I always like a nice hit of coriander which I didn’t get here.  So I would have rated it as a good bahn mi, but not somewhere that would replace those places closest to my heart.

I know this place is very popular, and sometimes only visiting a place once means you don’t give it a fair go.  While I certainly think it’s better than any of the bahn mi available in the city, was it the best I’ve had in Melbourne?  No.  Where was better?  Well that revelation is yet to come!

Food – 7.5
Service – 7.5
Ambience – 6
Price – 8

116 Hopkins Street
Footscray VIC
Tel: (03) 9689 7296

Nhu Lan on Urbanspoon

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