46-58 Buckingham Avenue
Springvale VIC 3171
+61 3 9548 4500
In Berlin, I turn to the city’s many doner kebab kiosks for a sub five-euro lunch when I’m on the go. In Melbourne, my cheap and portable lunch equivalent is most definitely a Vietnamese pork roll (banh mi thit). For less than a $5 note, you can get your mix of protein and carbs in one neat little package – and there’s plenty of vegetables and fresh herbs in the mix to convince yourself that you’re eating something that’s kinda healthy.
One day, I caught up with my friend Thanh in Springvale for breakfast. We decided to stop by one of his favourite Vietnamese sandwich kiosks, Ben Thanh Hot Bread & Bakery in Springvale Central. If you’re familiar with the shopping centre, it’s the bakery that’s directly opposite the KFL supermarket with windows adorned with posters of shoplifters they’ve photographed and shamed (lol).
Like any banh mi kiosk in Springvale, you can take your pick of sandwich fillings including Ben Thanh’s famous roast pork. I always stick to the mixed ham sandwich though so that’s what I ordered to take away.
My go-to for banh mi in Melbourne is Footscray’s Nhu Lan (also in Richmond) but I have to say that Ben Thanh offers an excellent substitute – especially since both sit at the $4.50 mark. I think the bread at Ben Thanh is better – it’s softer, fluffier and boasts a bit more texture. I also think they’re more generous with the pickled vegetables and their pâté has a bit more bite. That said, I think Nhu Lan wins overall – their cold slices are tastier, their sandwiches are bigger and they retain their crispiness better after they’ve sat around for a few hours.
In saying that, Ben Thanh is still an excellent choice for banh mi if you’re in Springvale. I’d definitely go again, though I’m also open to other suggestions if anyone has any!