It’s been a long time coming, but finally a Bánh Mì takeaway has opened in Byron Bay. And you will be pleased to know that Byron Bánh Mì isn’t some urban food court franchise. It’s the real thing. And the name behind the Byron Bánh Mì takeaway tucked down the far end of Jonson Street between the RSL Club and Lord Byron Resort is none other than Muoi Trinh from Muoi’s Feast fame.
For those living outside Byron Bay, and for those living inside who don’t get out much, you might not have heard about Muoi. For many years she was the owner and chef at Muoi’s Feast, a very successful French meets Vietnamese restaurant with its home in a courtyard setting below street level on Fletcher Street in Byron Bay. Muoi’s Feast was a locals’ institution (Shanghai Oysters!) which opened in 2003 and changed hands earlier in 2017. After a short hiatus from the restaurant pans, Muoi is back, preparing a simpler menu of French meets Vietnamese cuisine in her little Byron Bánh Mì takeaway that is drawing the local lunchtime crowds.
The Byron Bánh Mì, menu is compact with six different varieties of Bánh Mì available. The Crispy Pork Roast is my go to, but there is also a Traditional Pork with five spice pork belly, Grilled Lemongrass Pork, steamed pork Meatball, five spice roasted Chicken and Teriyaki Tofu.
There are also rice paper rolls served with a hoisin and peanut dipping sauce. The Pork and Prawn combination rolls are great with lots of filling. Muoi also has her signature Spring Rolls which are tempting and the naughtiest Bánh Patê Sô – a little street food snack inspired by the French Paté Chaud. It’s a small round pie of buttery puff pastry filled with savoury pork and paté. It’s kind of like a mini sausage roll but so much better. Muoi also prepares Vermicelli Salads that are refreshing and zesty and made to order.
For those unfamiliar with Bánh Mì, I shall explain to you its parts. It’s basically a Vietnamese Sandwich, inspired and influenced by French flavours and ingredients dating back to the colonial rule of Indochina.
The Baguette: The sandwich is made on a small baguette shaped roll that is light, crispy and flaky on the outside and soft on the inside, just like you would find in a traditional Vietnamese bakery. The lightness comes from the addition of rice flour to the dough. The roll is sliced on its side, but not all the way through
Paté: A generous spread of French style paté inside the cut roll is essential.
Butter: Some folk butter the baguette, further tipping the lid to French cuisine. As much as I love butter, I don’t absolutely need it on my Bánh Mì – there are plenty of other essential ingredients to keep the sandwich from being dry. But if it comes with butter – I’m okay with that too.
Mayo: A squeeze or spread is good and another reason to skip the butter … as much as I love butter.
The Meat: A Bánh Mì may include one or more types of meat served hot or cold. Traditionally, pork is the meat of choice. Muoi’s Crispy Pork Roast version ticks all the boxes. The pièce de résistance is the crunchy pork crackling. It’s always hard to decide whether to pick the crackling out to eat first or to leave it in and enjoy that crispy sensation when you bit through the sum of all the Bánh Mì’s delicious parts.
Pickled Carrot: A touch of pickled julienne of carrot is essential to counter the richness of the paté, pork, butter and mayo!
Cucumber: Thin slices or a julienne of cucumber are also fabulous for added texture and freshness.
Coriander: Those of you with disdain for this pungent herb can refrain, but I think a little is essential.
Chilli: Fresh slices of red chilli are optional.
I highly recommend you call into Byron Bánh Mì for lunch soon. They are open from 8am – 2pm Monday to Saturday. Lunchtime during the week gets pretty busy with ‘tradies’ and office workers coming out on their breaks. But don’t be put off if there is a crowd. The Bánh Mì are made fresh to order and there is never a long wait. There are benches and stools outside the takeaway to sit and wait or eat on the run. It’s great to have Muoi back in Byron’s eats scene. I suspect Byron Bánh Mì will do very well.
And if you’re ever in the western suburbs of Brisbane – here’s a tip! There is incredible Bánh Mì at the Scotts Road Takeaway at 3/146 Scotts Road, Darra and they are priced at just $4.50. It’s worth a detour seven days a week.