Seoul meets Saigon at a Hay Street café fusing Vietnamese and Korean in the one lunch roll
Smashup is the newest banh mi player in town, and their fare comes with a twist. The cafe’s take on the Vietnamese favourite incorporates Korean barbecue. They’ve been calling Hay Street home since October 2015, sandwiched between Japanese café Freshmade and the Corner Café, and they've been turning out brand new flavours for hungry passersby.
The shop has a sleek, dark interior — a black tiled counter and black tables, accented by cream stools. Black shades and oversized globes hang low over the barista. Should you wish to bask in the sun, there’s outdoor seating. Curious lunchtimers file in at 12, some of them regulars, others newbies. “Have you been here before?” the counter staff ask. They’re very curious to hear your opinions on how the Vietnamese and Korean combo goes down.
The recipe is different and so is the ordering procedure. Don’t expect to ask for a sandwich and stand back checking your phone — you’ll be shuffling along the opposite side of the counter to your banh mi creator as you assemble your meal to your personal taste.
The final result from our venture was a toasted Vietnamese-style baguette with pâté, mayonnaise, radish, carrot, cucumber, coriander, a couple of hot sauces and Korean barbeque pork, both spicy and regular. The flavours in our Frankenstein banh mi worked well — it was enjoyably spicy, with tender pork and tangy pickled vegetables.
Apart from the baguettes, there are mashup bowls too, with bases including Korean sweet potato noodles and bimbim pho. If you don’t have time to spare and you’re looking for grab-and-go eats, there’s a case up front with pre-made options. Keep it simple with a basic baguette (they’re not as fancy as the ones you need to stick around and wait for — you’ll be looking at the likes of honey mustard chicken or ham, cheese and tomato) or opt for some of their bright, freshly-made rice paper rolls.
The team can whip up a fruity juice blend to go with your fusion meal, or if you’re looking for something a little more caffeinated, the café whips up blends using beans from Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica. Snacks waiting for hungry office workers behind the glass display include muffins, carrot cake and baked cranberry cheese balls.
Smashup fuses not only Vietnamese and Korean food, but inner-city lunch bar and swish little café. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the combo.
1/544 Hay St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 6.30am-4pm; Sat, Sun 8am-4pm|