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A bright, modern café combining artisanal French baguettes with zingy Vietnamese fillings for a fusion take on classic banh mi. East-West pastries also feature.
Please note, Moba is now closed. Time Out Food & Drink Editors, January 2017.
The French introduced their beloved baguette to Indochina during their colonial rule in the 19th century, and the Vietnamese held onto it even after they’d ousted the wheat bread roll's creators. They made the iconic French stick their own, turning it into a lighter, leaner loaf with rice flour in the mix, filling it with the fresh flavours synonymous with Vietnamese cuisine, and calling the resulting sandwich ‘banh mi’.
Much as the British finally left India but couldn’t resist trying recreating a version of Indian cuisine for years afterwards, the two French men behind this Fitzrovia café are fusing more typically artisanal baguettes (chewy, dense and crisp-crusted) with a combination of rich and zingy South East Asian fillings to create Gallic-style banh mi.
Care has been taken to get the flavours right. Some baguettes are infused with Asian spice mixes; others with French ingredients such as garlic or mustard. Fillings such as gravlax are home-cured and intensively marinated, then paired with shreds of crunchy pickled vegetables. Our favourite was a warm filling of Thai-inflected beef bourguignon, slow-simmered in coconut milk until tender. The only gripe was the bread-to-filling ratio – baguettes this robust require a lot more stuffing (especially when you consider you’re paying nearly £7 for a posh sandwich).
However, the bright, modern tiled dining room, with its communal counters and tables and high leather seats, is a pleasant place from which to watch Goodge Street’s comers and goers, while staff – all sporting jaunty French-style flat caps – are as friendly as they come. And if you can squeeze them in, East-West pâtisserie such as matcha brownies and éclairs filled with citrusy custard make a fittingly fusion encore.