Banh Mi Bay

Serving one of the best Vietnamese baguettes in London
History and Background:
I first heard of this small eatery by word of mouth, Vietnamese food is not so mainstream in the UK, especially in London, but its actually one of my favourite cuisines.(I always think I’m half-Vietnamese due to my father’s history with Vietnam but many people think otherwise haha…) There are several good Vietnamese places worthy of note, but I first thought I would try my hand at Banh Mi Bay, Banh Mi is a literal translation for Vietnamese baguette, so you can guess that one of their specialties would be their…baguettes! I came with with Matt and Amy, to the Holborn Branch. You can find Banh Mi Bay in Fitzoriva (takeaway only) and St. Pauls. They also do delivery to certain areas of central London, for more information check their site: http://www.banhmibay.co.uk/ With a strong focus on Vietnamese authenticity, they stick to Vietnamese delicacies and local foods and have a strong following of City workers committed to having their daily lunch at the Vietnamese cafe. Fast and quick service means that Londoners and commuters can easily hustle and bustle within work hours without having to wait for good food.
The meal:
Banh Mi
Chargrilled Satay Chicken £4.50

One of the cheapest eats in London, takeaway prices vary from £4-6.

  • Fresh summer rolls (my favourite) – recommended * £3.50
  • Deep Fried spring rolls £4.00
  • Banh Mi Baguettes ranging from Shredded Caramel Pork to Char-grilled Satay Chicken £4.50
    • Extra main filling £1.00
    • Add Pate £0.50
  • Pho (similar flavours) for £6.00
  • Rice Boxes £6.00
  • Vietnamese drinks ranging from £1.50 – £2.00
Slightly dry but filling
Banh Mi
Chargrilled Lemongrass Beef £4.50
If you like sweet chilli flavours these baguettes are right up your street

These are big baguettes, but I found them to be slightly too dry, it may be because there’s too much bread – condiments ratio. Nevertheless, they’re enjoyable and aromatic, and similar to those that I have eaten in Vietnam. The added kick from chillies and fresh herbs allow your taste buds to savour the fresh flavour.

Banh Mi Bay
Deep Fried Spring Rolls £4.00
Vietnamese rolls are pretty different to Chinese spring rolls so do try some!

Fresh summer rolls (below) are my absolute favourite, my grandma always make them for the family on special occasions, and it really does taste exactly the same! The rolls are tasteless without dipping it into the lemon/ fish sauce I really love, you should relish the taste when you get a chance.

Fresh summer rolls £3.50

Service: It does get really busy especially during lunch hours, but the staff are friendly all the same. They are super speedy and very quick service, just what people love. They won’t rush you out either, since most of the business is take-out.

The bits and bobs:
  • Opening hours can be quite specific:
    • Mon-Fri 1130-4pm, 5.30-9pm. Closed Sundays
  • No booking between 12pm – 2.30pm, weekdays
  • Expect a queue but it dies down
  • The pho is supposed to be quite good, so try them out, (I will next time)
  • If you are thinking of visiting, ask me to come with, please!
Price: £

Banh Mi Bay on Urbanspoon

Kintan

Matt, Toby and Athena (or rather, Athena’s hand) in eager anticipation for their meal to come

History and Background:

Newly renovated, newly opened, (July 2014), Kintan acclaims itself as London’s first yakiniku restaurant. Centrally located in High Holborn, a place bustling with City workers, you’ll find it hard to be seated during its busiest hours. With a considerably large dining area, it accommodates up to 130 seats. Kintan has actually already achieved worldwide success, the name not uncommon to most Japanese people, as its authenticity has allowed it to become the number one yakiniku restaurant chain, with restaurants all over Europe, the US, and Jakarta.

All in all, a welcomed addition to the locals, since in recent years, sushi and ramen bars have dominated and over populated the London-Japanese food scene.

The meal: [Set lunch for £17.50]

Salad and Miso soup

There are three different types of lunch set menu’s and you are given a choice out of 6-8 different meats, and you choose 2-4 depending on the set.

Pork Belly
Kalbi short rib

This is the fun part, the DIY-ing. The meat, sweetly marinated and thinly cut, topped with sesame seeds… and with the grill so hot… you can’t wait to get your hands on those tongs!

Matt and Toby makes grilling meat a work of art.
Hungry yet?

Thin slices of finely cut, high quality meat all ready to be eaten within minutes of grilling, tender and succulent.

Alongside the meat, you are given three sauces as dippers and a generous bowl of rice.

Cook it the way you want it. Grilling galore.

Service: One of the slowest customer service I have ever encountered. We were sat around the corner and away from the staff. It got to the point where I had to get out of my seat and order, or request things. Many reviewers on blogs, urbanspoon, and timeout have encountered the same problem. It is important for a restaurant to focus on customer service too, not just food.

Regardless, my colleagues and I have chosen this place for the company’s Christmas lunch this Friday, given the restaurant’s proximity to the firm. Let see if there are any improvements…

Bits and Bobs:

  • They do plenty of deals, prices can be steep, but there are also set lunches/ dinners  at £17.50-£39.95
  • They use an artificial barbeque grill, (as you can see from the photos)
  • Booking highly recommended if going in the evening. They’re not too efficient with seat allocation so do book.

Price: £££