One of Yoyogi Park’s most popular Asian festivals Vietnam Festival just celebrated its 2010 edition on September 18 and19. Around 60 booths, the majority of which sold food, drink and sundries were represented, with over 100,000 people in attendance.
If you missed the festival, you can still enjoy one of Vietnam’s most popular breakfast items, the venerable bánh mì. Once under French colonial rule, Vietnam has been strongly influenced by French culture; bánh mì is one example of this influence. The sandwich is made up of a French-style baguette packed with fillings such as pâtés (liver pâté, to name one), meats, sweet pickled vegetables and cilantro, topped with a drizzling of nước mắm (fish sauce). We have lined up five Tokyo shops when you can try this popular food takeaway style.
Bánh mì Sandwich (Takadanobaba)
Bánh mì Buta (pork) Yakiniku ¥500
This shop is located in a small alley off of Waseda Dori, fairly close to Takadanobaba Station. There are five varieties of the shop’s specialty bánh mì to choose from – roast beef, pork, chicken, Vietnamese ham and liver paste or prawn and avocado. The bread is on the firm side, and the sweet pickled vegetables are cut to a size which gives it the perfect texture. Roast pork and Vietnamese ham and liver paste bánh mì sell out quickly so if you’re plumping for one, it might be a good idea to make a reservation by phone. There are also fairly small sized mini bánh mì selling at ¥300 each.
(Full details & map)
Katane Bakery (Yoyogi-uehara)
This popular bread shop is located in a quiet residential area between Yoyogi-uehara and Hatagaya. The bakery sells crusty breads such as baguettes, and pastries coated in sugar. From around 11am two kinds of bánh mì (pork and tuna) go on sale for the lunch crowd. The bread used in the bánh mì is hard on the outside and soft in the middle. This shop is very popular so we recommend that you call ahead and place your order by phone. (Full details & map)
Pork, Chicken, Egg, Vegetable Bánh mì ¥580
Potluck is located in the basement of Shibuya select shop Opening Ceremony. In addition to bánh mì, they also less common restaurant cooking methods, such as using a skillet. There are four kinds of bánh mì on the menu: pork (filled with sweet flavoured pork), chicken (filled with shreds of meat), egg (filled with Vietnamese-style fried egg) and vegetable (filled with capsicum and eggplant). The bread is soft, offering a good counterpoint to the fillings. Until 4pm customers have the option of having a set, which includes fries and a drink for an extra ¥300. (Full details & map)
This shop is located five minute’s walk from Kamata Station, and is so popular that you won’t be going in without a reservation. In addition to bánh mì, there are also many other items on the menu including rice paper rolls and spring rolls, the okonomiyaki-like bánh xèo, and the sweet soupy pudding known as chè. The prices are reasonable. There are several flavours for bánh mì to choose from including roast pork and fish. The strong flavour of the nước mắm fish sauce and cilantro will make you feel as if you have been whisked away to Vietnam. (Full details & map)
Bánh mì Ham ¥750
This shop is located in a huge mansion, about a five minute walk from Kita-senju Station. Look out for the Vietnamese-style cyclo taxi out the front. There are three kinds of bánh mì on offer: ham (¥750), roast pork (¥750) and roast beef (¥1,000). The bread is browned on the outside, and the pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumber give it a very simple home-style flavour. Take note that on occasions you might not be able to get in the door due to limited seating. (Full details & map)
Text and photos by Takeshi Tojo
Translated by E. Kavanagh