The other week I found myself in Shoreditch for a friend’s birthday, it was going to be a long old day in the pub so myself and my friend Ed set out to find some tasty food to set ourselves up. On the way there we encountered an area overflowing with Vietnamese restaurants and cafes (along Kingsland Road to be exact) and I wondered if anywhere might be selling Vietnamese style baguettes or Banh Mi as they are traditionally called.
After walking past practically every Vietnamese restaurant in London (with Ed becoming increasingly frustrated at my persistence) we finally stumbled upon Nam Caphe (Edit 11/05/13: formerly Banh Mi London until very recently), a cafe that specialises in Vietnamese baguettes and salads. Our (my) patience looked to have paid off! I ordered a baguette with pork four ways for £5 and Ed ordered a chicken and lemongrass noodle salad for £6.
My baguette contained slices of BBQ pork, pork belly, deli pork and pork pate, and was stuffed full of shredded cabbage, carrot, cucumber, fresh coriander and fresh chilli. As far as sandwiches go they don’t come much tastier than this, it’s pretty much a Vietnamese BBQ in a roll with a kick of chilli for good measure.
I ate a lot of these baguettes in Laos (there’s an awesome place in Vientiane) many years ago on my travels and remember them fondly. They are a product of the French colonialisation of Vietnam which I’m not even gonna pretend to know anything about, but it kind of makes sense now right? I’d pretty much forgotten about them until recently when I read somewhere that they’re becoming quite popular in London now thanks to the hipsters, they can be forgiven for their nonsensical dress sense and haircuts as far as I’m concerned (I’m just jealous really) as long as they keep making food like this trendy.
Despite my love for the baguette, it was actually Ed’s chicken and lemongrass noodle salad that stole the show on the day, drenched with a beautifully flavoured Vietnamese dressing it was to die for. Go check these guys out if you’re in the hood, they also have quite a majestic selection of Vietnamese fruit shakes on offer, best way to get there is from Hoxton or Shoreditch High Street overground stations. They have no website as yet.
Nam Caphe, 134 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY