Envision a pile of wood – arrange them in random fashion without vision, and you get…a pile of wood. But get a master builder (*snicker* Lego Movie reference) to get in on the action and you could build a plane out of it. As with many things in life, the cumulative whole is often greater than the sum of its parts.
Yes, this totally relates to banh mi (Vietnamese rolls). After all, what is it, other than just an arrangement of bread, vegetables, pate, and select meat choices? But then, the number of quality banh mi eateries in Sydney is staggering, with no clear winner as to which is the best. This is where mastery and vision matters, especially for such a cheap, readily-available commodity. How else are you going to stand out?
Well, you could try making a banh mi that tops the ones at Marrickville Pork Roll, but I would start practising yesterday if I were you. Read on for what is arguably the best banh mi in Sydney.
Date Last Visited: 29/3/14
Address: 236a Illawarra Rd Sydney, NSW 2204
Recommended Dish(es): *raises eyebrows*
If you’re even remotely into banh mi, then this review may as well compare to a review of Maccas – that is, everyone’s already done it, raved about it, and the whole entire universe is into it. Then again, you may not have discovered this nearly-literal hole-in-the-wall “bakery”. The picture below serves to aid you in this quest.
Did you find it? Forgiven if you didn’t. I deliberately took this shot wider, to illustrate just how small the place is. I have literally not seen a smaller banh mi shop. A bonus for the locals who want to keep their local not-so-secret secret.
The fact that this business can operate on a footprint of this size is proof that it can work, and work astoundingly well. Preparation and personal space is clearly overrated here.
So as I may have not-so-subtly alluded that MPR is widely-regarded as the purveyor of the best banh mi in Sydney, you may be wondering what makes a good banh mi in the first place. It’s the simple stuff, really.
Much like a good sandwich, it’s all about ratios. No complex math here – just get the amount of bread right to the amount of vegetables (for texture and aroma enhancements), to the amount of pate to the amount of sauce. Get the temperature of the roll right and get the roll itself right (too tough or too soft, too absorbent or too leaky), and make sure everything is fresh as a daisy.
Whoa, it doesn’t seem so easy any more does it? That’s why people can bandy around the word “best” like it was an easy attribution to make. Still, it’s gotta make the rounds through my belly.
We opted for your classic banh mi thit cha (pork meat banh mi), as well as a slightly more novel banh mi thit ga (chicken banh mi). Ok, it’s not really novel, but pork is usually the default.
You know all those ratios I talked about earlier? There were clearly many, many permutations to it all, so to get the balance right is an art that can only be mastered through countless failed banh mi. These guys must have failed a lot, because their final result is nothing short of stunning.
With the exception of some leakage of fish sauce, and me accidentally choking on some of the bread due to overzealous mastication, the ratios were all on the spot. Obviously, I shouldn’t even mention that this is subjective, so a better statement would be that my tastes align with everyone else who rate this place as the best, or one of the best banh mi places they’ve tried.
Bite, soft, crunch, aroma, flavour. Bite, soft, crunch, aroma, flavour. Repeat; for the entirety of your roll.
The pork is still my favourite, there is usually a reason why defaults are defaults – pork just lends itself so well to the banh mi that I have never had a better combination. Just keep it coming. Though perhaps a warning label that reads “beware of choking hazard if eating too fast” could be a suggestion – or maybe that’s just me.
Flavours are more subdued with the chicken banh mi, as it isn’t a sweet of a meat as pork. As such, the result tastes a lot less inspiring, but this is relative to a pork banh mi, so the odds were stacked against chicken in the first place. Still, a great option if you can’t take pork (halal, for example).
The correct way to conclude this post is that it’s certainly the best banh mi I’ve had. I’ve yet to try other serious contenders like the one from Mosman, but hey, that’s why I live – to always top the last.
For now, Marrickville Pork Roll holds the crown. This is where it’s at.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀
- Best banh mi in Sydney bar none I’ve tried
Not so Awesome:
- I don’t live in Marrickville
- Sauce leakage problems