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Banh Mi at Spring Hot Bread
Photograph: Michael Pham

The best banh mi in Melbourne

We travelled far and wide to bring you some of Melbourne's best bánh mì, whether they are filled with pork, chicken or tofu.

By Sonia Nair
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The best bánh mì has bread with crunch, but not so much it scrapes the roof of your mouth. It’s fluffy and light, but not so flaky it completely disintegrates into your lap. It’s the perfect vessel for liberal amounts of pâté and a Vietnamese condiment called egg mayo butter – either egg mayo is spread on one piece of bread and butter is spread on the other, or the two are spread on top of each other – fresh cucumber, pickled carrot (and daikon if you’re lucky), generous sprigs of coriander and chilli massaged into its crevices, a dash of Maggi seasoning and the protein of your choice. 

The traditional bánh mì thịt nguội (bánh mì filled with cold cuts) was eaten as a control wherever we could alongside one other roll for variety, which has produced our rankings for some of Melbourne's top bánh mìs.

Love things between bread? Here are our favourite sandwiches in Melbourne. Prefer those sandwiches toasted? Look no further.

Note: Things are changing rapidly in Melbourne, so make sure you ring the venue before heading out to make sure it's open and you can get a spot. 

The best bánh mì in Melbourne

Banh Mi at Bun Bun Bakery
Banh Mi at Bun Bun Bakery
Photograph: Michael Pham

1. Bun Bun Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Springvale

Order this: Traditional pork roll

Accepts: Cash

Taken alone, bánh mì means ‘bread’, and nowhere is the bread better than Springvale bánh mì institution Bun Bun Bakery, set up by a husband-and-wife duo over 20 years ago. Lines snake out the door no matter what time you visit, but the five well-organised women behind the counter remain unfazed – between them churning out between 600 to 1,000 rolls every day. Bun Bun’s fresh housemade bread is the perfect foil for the fresh hams and steamed pork belly. The sandwich is lifted by the julienned pickled carrot, fresh cucumber and spring onion shoots. A hot tip: ask for extra coriander and chilli to offset the rich chicken liver pâté and butter. Bun Bun’s best-selling roasted pork in barbecue sauce roll is stuffed with marinated cubes of crispy pork and caramelised onions. If we had to pick one, we’d stick to the original.

Banh Mi at Phuoc Thanh
Banh Mi at Phuoc Thanh
Photograph: Michael Pham

2. Phuoc Thanh

Restaurants Bakeries Richmond

Order this: Pork salad roll

Accepts: Card, cash

Phuoc Thanh is nothing to look at, but it serves up one of the best bánh mì in Melbourne. Flaky, light yet substantial bread envelops Vietnamese hams, pork loaf and brawn (a jelly-based terrine made from the pig’s head) as well as a smattering of fresh lettuce, which breaks up the typical holy trinity of pickled carrot, fresh cucumber and coriander. The grilled pork salad roll is laced with caramelised onions layering the sweetness on a roll already sweet from the soy marinade blanketing the barbecued pork. The equally popular crispy pork roll contains deep-fried shallots, and spring onions accompany the fatty cubes of crisp pork drizzled with hoisin sauce. Both are delicious.

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Bahn Mi at To's Bakery
Bahn Mi at To's Bakery
Photograph: Graham Denholm

3. To's Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Footscray

Order this: Mixed ham roll

Accepts: Card, cash

Footscray's Hopkins Street is a bánh mì battleground between To’s and the flashier Nhu Lan, but we’d vote for To’s. As To’s is far less hyped up than its competitor, you can easily stroll in on a Sunday morning and order your preferred fresh housemade roll and a Vietnamese dessert without playing human dodgem. To’s mixed ham roll surprises us with its addition of pickled capsicum, though it’s disguised in the melange of pickled carrot, fresh coriander and cucumber. The mixed hams in To’s traditional roll are firm and freshly sliced with a decent slab of head cheese (a meat jelly made from the head of a pig) adding a pleasingly gelatinous fattiness. The richness of To’s crisp pork roll is offset by the absence of pâté or butter, with shards of crackling punctuating every second bite.

Banh Mi at Selina Hot Bread
Banh Mi at Selina Hot Bread
Photograph: Michael Pham

4. Selina Hot Bread

Restaurants Bakeries Sunshine

Order this: Tofu roll

Accepts: Cash

Selina Hot Bread in Sunshine may not be as synonymous as Trang is with vegan bánh mìs, but it should be with its mock tuna, mock barbecue pork and mock chicken. The VN ham roll comes with five generous slabs of cold cuts (some, too thick) packed in with raw onion, shallots, red chilli, coriander and pickled carrot with the requisite spreads of pâté and butter. The acidic combination of raw onion and the fiery red chillies result in one of the spiciest, tear-inducing bánh mìs and we love it. The tofu roll is filled with spongy pieces of tofu that are microwaved and stuck in a roll that is assembled with raw onion. The soy-and-hoisin marinated tofu absorbs all the savoury notes of its seasoning and works a treat with the crunchy housemade bread. 

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Banh Mi at Anloi Deli
Banh Mi at Anloi Deli
Photograph: Michael Pham

5. Anloi Deli

Restaurants Delis Springvale

Order this: Chicken roll

Accepts: Cash

Venture off the high street into the bustling Springvale Shopping Centre and you’ll find the brightly lit Anloi Deli nestled in amongst Vietnamese coffee shops, butchers and greengrocers. Anloi has two L-shaped counters dedicated to takeaway meals, processed meats and condiments, leaving a tiny portion of the shop reserved for bánh mì orders and a bottleneck of hungry customers that accrue once lunchtime hits. Anloi Deli’s piquant ham roll with its multiple thinly sliced fresh cold cuts is complemented by the abundant coriander sprigs with swipes of pâté and butter. The bread-to-ingredient ratio is the most balanced of everywhere we try; a perfect sphere of crust neatly surrounds the packed in meats and pickled vegetables. Don’t leave without trying the well-seasoned, moreish and tender chicken roll – it’s the high-performing underdog that competes against the crispy roast pork roll. The only place where Anloi falters is when it comes to its bread, which is ever so slightly tough. 

Banh Mi at Spring Hot Bread
Banh Mi at Spring Hot Bread
Photograph: Michael Pham

6. Spring Hot Bread

Restaurants Bakeries Springvale South

Order this: Mixed ham roll

Accepts: Cash

The family-run Spring Hot Bread where Anna Nguyen and her parents have been baking bread since 2003 produces rolls that are light but with substantial heft. The julienned carrots do a great job at cutting through the richness of the cold cuts, chicken liver pâté and butter-slathered insides of the mixed ham roll. The pork skewer roll is filled with grilled pork dark pink from the chargrill which tastes akin to reconstituted meat and won’t be to everyone’s taste but is a favourite amongst locals to the Springvale area.

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Bahn Mi at Nhu Lan
Bahn Mi at Nhu Lan
Photograph: Graham Denholm

7. Nhu Lan

Restaurants Footscray

Order this: Mixed ham roll

Accepts: Cash

Nhu Lan is everything we thought a cult favourite bánh mì local would be on a Sunday – haphazard customers refusing to queue and trays of hot bread being unceremoniously deposited onto the counters. Nhu Lan’s bread is exceptional – it’s light and airy on the inside (almost to the point of being hollow) and crisp on the outside. The rich, housemade liver pâté is slathered on with more abandon and the red chillies are far more potent, while the addition of spring onion adds a welcome acerbity to the roll. The barbecue pork roll is moist, with a pleasing combination of salty and sweet. If you're not close to Footscray, Nhu Lan also has an outpost in North Richmond. 

Banh Mi at Minh’s Vietnamese and Chinese
Banh Mi at Minh’s Vietnamese and Chinese
Photograph: Michael Pham

8. Minh’s Vietnamese and Chinese

Restaurants Bakeries Moonee Ponds

Order this: Grilled chicken roll

Accepts: Cash

Minh’s bánh mì selection is scant, around five features, none of them the traditional mixed ham roll. What differentiates its bánh mìs further is the use of tiger rolls (made off-site). The mottled crusts give them the appearance of an almond croissant and the rice paste crust and sesame oil-spiked flour lend them a distinctive savoury flavour – we could eat these by themselves but we pair them instead with the grilled chicken and the grilled pork. The grilled chicken with cucumber, coriander, carrot, spring onion and a generous hoisin and housemade chilli oil seasoning is perhaps the best chicken bánh mì we have come across.

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Banh Mi at N. Lee
Banh Mi at N. Lee
Photograph: Michael Pham

9. N Lee Bakery

Restaurants Collingwood

Order this: Pork loaf roll

Accepts: Cash

N Lee opened Collingwood in 1991, expanding to Little Collins Street in 2007 and Collins Street in 2010, but the original store has not received a glow-up – it remains a no-frills, sparsely decked out bakery where bread is baked in-house, daily. N Lee’s mid-priced pork loaf roll is soft and fluffy but lacks an outer shell with good crunch, and the mixed hams aren’t as fresh, varied or firm as the others we tried. The chillies are far from ornamental and the generous proportion of pork liver pâté, pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cucumber and coriander to sliced cold cuts makes it a real winner. The thinly sliced slabs of tofu in the vegetarian bánh mì are marinated in a soy concoction and is sandwiched amongst the usual deluge of pickled and fresh vegetables along with a garnish of fried shallots, elevating it into an option meat-eaters should consider. 

Banh Mi at Pho Nom
Banh Mi at Pho Nom
Photograph: Michael Pham

10. Phở Nom

Restaurants Melbourne

Order this: Crispy roast pork belly roll

Accepts: Card, cash

Pho Nom used to offer a traditional bánh mì thịt nguội but pulled it from the menu after a lack of interest. It’s a shame, though the crispy roast pork belly makes up for it. Everything that would be in a mixed ham roll is replicated in this one – from the generous spread of pâté and butter to the packed in pickled carrot, fresh cucumber and sprigs of coriander – but replace the litany of cold cuts with sticky pork belly marinated in a plum sauce framed by the crunch of impeccably roasted crackling. We also enjoy the immaculately deep-fried, free from grease, five-spice-speckled Milawa chicken roll doused in sriracha mayo, accompanied by the usual suspects of pickled carrot, cucumber coriander and chilli.

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Banh Mi at VB Rolls
Banh Mi at VB Rolls
Photograph: Michael Pham

11. VB Rolls

Restaurants Vietnamese Melbourne

Order this: Keepin’ it real

Accepts: Card, cash

VB Rolls in Tivoli Arcade gives the most excessive serving of shredded carrot we’ve ever seen in a bánh mì, which is mostly welcome, but the carrots the aren’t as pickled as we would’ve liked. The cold cuts are fresh, featuring the highly-prized head cheese and the bread is reasonably crunchy and flaky, but expect to shed half your banh mi on the floor of Tivoli Arcade’s food court. The salad roll, jam packed with thinly sliced tofu, beancurd skin and fried shallots, is light and savoury, though both rolls feature slightly too much soy sauce which results in leaks and drenched bread ends. 

Banh Mi at Trang Bakery and Café
Banh Mi at Trang Bakery and Café
Photograph: Michael Pham

12. Trang Bakery and Café

Restaurants Bakeries Collingwood

Order this: Vegan duck roll

Accepts: Card, cash

Vegans flock to the family-run Trang for their bánh mìs that range from vegan roast duck and vegan chicken to eggplant tempura and lemongrass tofu. The roast pork roll contains roasted pork cubes are a balanced blend of fat and crackling but they’re unevenly spread throughout the bread roll, which is tough and overly dense. Less traditional fillings of purple cabbage, capsicum, fried shallots and roasted peanuts do little to cut through the richness of the pork and pâté. A better order is the soy-soaked vegan duck, meat-like in texture, drizzled with an unconventional peanut sauce. Hot tip, if you’re ordering several bánh mìs, the lovely staff will chuck in a few spring rolls on the house.

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Banh Mi at Master Roll Vietnam
Banh Mi at Master Roll Vietnam
Photograph: Michael Pham

13. Master Roll

Restaurants Vietnamese South Yarra

Order this: Cold meat bread roll

Accepts: Card, cash

Master Roll’s ingredients are high quality, pickled matchstick carrots and thick-cut daikon are by far the most vinegary and refreshing we’ve tried. Its different cold cuts, including head cheese, are firm and aromatic and the grilled chicken bread roll features smoky chargrilled cubes of chicken. Unfortunately, the rolls are let down by overly stiff and heavy bread with a disproportionate bread-to-fillings ratio. The addition of a house-made mayo, more like the Western version of mayo than the Vietnamese one, gives the pickled vegetables and fresh cucumber an almost coleslaw-like coating and the pâté is generous.

Looking for a nice spot to enjoy your bánh mì?

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