A Slice of Vietnam

Photo by Duncan Fingarson
Photo by Duncan Fingarson


New Sandwich shop opens near Douglas College

By Duncan Fingarson, Contributor

It’s possible in the Lower Mainland to find food from almost every culture around the world. Some are more dominant, as the profusion of Chinese and Indian restaurants will readily attest, and some are less-so. One that’s always seemed a little harder to find is Vietnamese. Now, though, there’s a little piece of Vietnam in New Westminster, and it’s just down the street.

Having opened in July, Banh Mi Bar is a sandwich shop owned and operated by husband and wife team Tung and Lily. Says Tung: “I wanted to go into the food industry, but the failure rate for new restaurants is very high, something like 90 per cent. So we’ve started with something a little smaller, and more manageable.”

Indeed, the shop isn’t large, and seating space is fairly limited. Fortunately, the sandwiches are both delicious and available to go. The sandwiches are sub style, served on a baguette—Vietnam was once occupied by the French—but the flavour is quite different from anything you’d find at Subway, as the menu draws on authentic Vietnamese flavours. All subs are served with cilantro, jalapeno, and an assortment of vegetables. The chicken subs use grilled chicken thigh, rather than anything processed, and the vegetables are fresh, which really comes through on the finished sandwich. The pork patty sub uses grilled strips of pork patty, flavoured with garlic. The house special features four kinds of cold cuts, as well as Vietnamese pork meatballs. Another sub uses “cha,” a type of Vietnamese pork sausage. For those who prefer to avoid meat, the menu also features a vegan option.

Tung and Lily have already earned some loyal customers. The first time I entered the shop was on the recommendation of another customer who had been standing outside. Another point in Banh Mi Bar’s favour is the pricing. The “House Special,”—priced at just $5 with taxes included—is one of the most expensive things on the menu. All of the sandwiches are very affordable, and fit nicely into a student’s limited budget.

There’s more value to be had, as well. When I visited, I received a stamp card good for one free sub after accumulating ten stamps, with each purchased sub worth one.

Banh Mi Bar is a good choice for lunch, especially for anyone wanting to support local small businesses. The ingredients are fresh, the subs are tasty, the staff is friendly, and the prices can’t be beat. Banh Mi Bar is located at 722 Carnarvon St, next to the entrance of the Douglas College parkade.