Maybe there are other bakeries that has equally good Banh Mi.
For me, I had only wanted Banh Mi from two places in town. It is either from Ba Le (on Kingsway not the one in Chinatown) or from Tung Hing. No, I am not a Banh Mi snob but it is just that I do not know of any other place who serves better Banh Mi.
Tung Hing is located on Kingsway near the intersection with Inverness. It is also located just a block away from Ba Le. So every time when I wanted to get a Banh Mi I had a hard time deciding which one I wanted to go to. I find that I go to Ba Le more than Tung Hing but really both are equally good.
The name Tung Hing Bakery is an easier name to remember than Tiem Banh Dong Khanh for sure. Does anyone know why Tung Hing has two names? Or even what the Vietnamese name mean?
Anyway, Tung Hing is a smallish operation famous for its Banh Mi and also pastries. Unlike Ba Le which has a few tables, Tung Hing doesn’t have one … or at least I can’t recall they had any. Sometimes at work when I need to get away for sometime on my own to decompress, I would take a long drive to Ba Le, grab a newspaper and just enjoy a Banh Mi with a cup of ice cold Vietnamese coffee (with condensed milk!). That works all the time and I enjoy it.
With Tung Hing, it is always to-go for me.
I am a noob when it comes to Banh Mi. And I am curious by nature. When I see all the ingredients all laid out there, I wanted to know what everything is.
But good luck trying to find out. They are machines behind the counter. I mean, they are pretty machines too but they are not programmed to smile … or to answer idiotic questions. I even had to stand aside and stare at the menu — and try to figure out for myself what I wanted. I don’t know why but serious and pretty girls scares me a lot. LOL!
Yeah, they work very fast. It helps if you know what you want. Maybe that is one reason why I like Ba Le a little better than Tung Hing.
To me, a great Banh Mi is all about the baguette. Baguette has a short shelf life. It is best when just out from the oven. After four hours, they are really not as good and you can tell the difference. That is why I don’t even want to touch Banh Mi from places like T&T and such.
What makes Tung Hing and Ba Le stands apart from other places where you could grab such a sandwich is that they … bake these foot long baguettes in house. Every time I was there they always have freshly made ones. I love it when they pour a freshly made tray of baguettes into the basket at the counter. When I see that, I would tell them I want the ones just out.
Tung Hing’s baguettes are light and airy with a nice crust.
Oh yeah, the other reason I prefer Ba Le over Tung Hing is that Ba Le has a much much newer and bigger oven. Go see both and you will know what I mean.
The Banh Mi has its roots from the days when Vietnam was a French colony. Here is what one writer says:
“Before 1954, when the French pulled out, we called them French sandwiches,” says caterer Germaine Swanson, 72, a Hanoi native who from 1978 to 1998 operated the beloved Germaine’s restaurant in Glover Park. “But only rich people could afford French bread spread with imported butter, pate and ham. After the French left we started to add Asian ingredients to it, spices and herbs like cilantro, to make it taste better.” To replace the costly imported cornichons, the Vietnamese created the radish and carrot pickle.
The ingredients are fresh and tasty. You just can’t beat the combination of thinly sliced pickled carrots and daikon, long sliver of cucumber and cilantro. That, to me, is the other characteristic of a great Banh Mi.
It is also cheap too. It is like $3 only. Being a light lunch eater, this is the perfect size for me.
Really, that is about it. The Banh Mi is more about the texture of the baguette and the freshness of the vegetables.
The meat of various kind and the pate is not really that important to me although I gravitate towards grilled pork like 90% of the time.
As good as the Banh Mi in both of my favourite places, it seriously pales compared with how they make this in Vietnam. Oh my god … look at the fried egg … and the frying oil too! That is BANH MI, spelt in all caps.
I was wondering if anyone makes Banh Mi like those in Metro Vancouver. If there is, I am going tomorrow.
Tung Hing also makes pastries. They looked more Chinese style pastries than Vietnamese. I am saying this because my image of a Vietnamese pastry is that they are more colorful.
Suanne loves their pastries. She said that they are much cheaper in Tung Hing compared to places like New Town or T&T.
So, every now and then I would drop by Tung Hing and pick up some pastries on the way back from home.
Suanne’s favourite is the durian cream bun which has a bit of shredded coconut in it. It is lovely and is the only place we know that has such buns.