Vietnamese eateries aren’t anything new in Joo Chiat. While traditionally a Peranakan enclave, it’s also known to be the spot for authentic Vietnamese cuisine – where you can get a piping hot bowl of pho or freshly-baked chicken pate baguettes. But there’s been recent fervour over banh mi eatery Joo Chiat Caphe, a newly-opened sandwich shop remodelled from the bones of a decade-old mackerel otah shop.
While near empty when the kitchen was doling out otah, it’s now a bustling shop with long lunchline queues forming outside. You can choose from the likes of classic banh mi sandwiches like a chicken cold cut with homemade chicken pate ($5.80) or a grilled lemongrass beef patty ($7).
The star of the show though, is evidently its mackerel otah banh mi ($6.50). After all, the owners did run an otah shop – Nam San Mackerel Otah – for years prior. But we opted for the crispy fish fillet ($7), wanting to try something a little untraditional but still delicious, especially when paired with a tangy honey mustard sauce.
The Vietnamese coffee is also a no-brainer, known for its bolder flavours. Here, it starts from $3.50 for a hot coffee where you can choose to add condensed or evaporated milk – or simply have it kosong, with no-frills. It’s potent enough to last you throughout the day.