Please note, Whaam Banh Mi has now closed. Time Out Food editors, September 2018.
This takeaway is further proof that the Vietnamese sub is going mainstream. Whaam is decked out in rough wood and bare brick with a cheerful yellow frontage, and has pitched up on a side street mere metres from the tourist hub of Piccadilly Circus. It offers five banh mi, plus sides including salads and summer rolls. Founder Tom Barlow spent five years in Vietnam, some of that time spent researching how to bake and fill the perfect banh mi baguette; he then built up a following at UK street-food markets. The result is commendable: the breadsticks are yielding and pliable with an airy crumb. Of the slow-cooked fillings we tried, the marinated, braised brisket – a slow-cooked take on flash-fried Vietnamese shaking beef – was rich in soy and citrus flavours. However, truly authentic banh mi deliver a kaleidoscope of zingy flavours via plenty of fresh herbs native to their homeland, and these are notable by their absence, reducing the wow factor of the final product. Nevertheless, Whaam offers good-quality, filling sandwiches at reasonable prices in a central location.