132 Russell Street, Melbourne CBD 3000
I love the fantastic array of food that we get to experience living in Melbourne. Po'boys, bibimbap, tonkatsu, quesadillas are nowadays as common place as dim sims and souvalaki's were in the 80's. Kids nowadays have so many interesting choices and I'm always happy to see my kids try foods from different cultures and learn to appreciate the healthier options that are offered. (Macaron Monster still impresses me when she chooses sushi over Maccas when given the choice!) Banh Mi are surely one of the first "fusion foods", having been created as a street food during the time of French occupation of Vietnam, and have long been around thanks to Melbourne's thriving Vietnamese Community.
Banh Mi has been a favourite food of mine since my Mum bought one for us as an after school snack when I was in primary school. I was a pretty picky eater, yet the combination of crispy baguette, sharp pickles, variety of hams and even pate (!) somehow just worked so well together, even to my less than discerning young taste buds!
I was invited to a banh mi masterclass to experience the traditional banh mi that will be available in the newly established Ba'get this week, and was treated to a really interesting "guided tour" on how good banh mi are made. It is obvious Duy and his family, the lovely people behind Ba'get, are passionate about traditional, fresh and healthy food. Duy told us a bit about his family's background in the food industry. They have stayed true to the recipe used in the Mekong region of Vietnam, with slight adaptations over the years to perfect the balance of ingredients in their Banh Mi.
Next up Duy's brother taught us how the baguettes are made and boy, I will never, ever under estimate how much skill one needs to make these baguettes! To be honest I had never paid much attention to these rolls that are sold at all Vietnamese bakeries. I'm delighted by the fact that the baguettes here are baked on the premises, and the winning formula for me is that they are being baked EVERY HOUR!
So we all had a go at making the baguettes. Here's my less than impressive looking baguette , shaped by yours truly......
And the subsequent outcome.
I tell you it's much easier to make macarons then to bake the perfect baguette! Don't worry, the baguettes made by the staff at Ba'get all look great!
Duy then taught us how to make the traditional pickle that goes into the banh mi. The freshest ingredients made for a refreshing and tart pickle that gives a good banh mi the perfect balance of crunch and sourness to complement the fresh bread and meat.
Then Duy's sister Jenny assembles the fresh ingredients including options for the classic hams, lemongrass pork or chicken, pulled chicken or meat balls. There's even a vegetarian choice with tofu which I tried for the first time and was surprisingly delicious!
The others also experienced some exotic looking Vietnamese cocktails. I didn't drink because I was driving, of course!
Overall I think the baked-on-the-hour fresh baguettes and the emphasis on fresh quality ingredients will distinguish Ba'get as a more than worthy lunch (and even dinner) option for discerning Melbourne city-goers. Ba'get officially opens on Friday 28th March (that's tomorrow!) and they are offering free banh mi to their facebook likers, so get in quick to try it out!
Disclaimer : I attended the Banh Mi masterclass at Ba'get courtesy of Ba'get and Hothouse Media. Opinions are my own.