Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery

Sign

OPEN: Monday to Saturday 12:00pm until 9:00pm, Closed Sundays
PAYMENT: Cash Only
SEATING: Indoor/Non-Smoking, Seating for Approximately 30 People
TAKE AWAY: Encouraged, All Menu Items Available for Take Out
DELIVERY: Available for Local Area, Additional 50 Pesos Outside 3km
LOCAL PHONE #: (045) 888-5805
CATERING & SPECIAL EVENTS Available, Contact Rex Soriano at Above # for Details
MENU: See Attached PDF, Prices and Menu as of Feb. 19, 2014
LOCATION: See Map Below


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The Lost Art of Sandwich Making in the Philippines

I recently returned from a quick trip to Thailand. One of the first meals I ate was at a place I’d typically avoid at all costs while on vacation. I ate at Subway. In fact I ate at Subway probably three or four times during the course of my week long visit.

You’re probably saying to yourself: “Chris, why are you talking about Subway when your whole concept for SleepEatGolf is about eating where the locals eat, street food and hole in the wall types of places?”

Why was I eating at Subway for $5 to $8 (sandwich only!) when the local foods in Thailand (particularly the street foods and small cafes) are incredibly fresh, delectable and only about $2 to $3 for an entire meal? I’ll tell you why.

It is near impossible to find a delicious sandwich here in Angeles City. Once upon a time there was a place called Subdelicious that allegedly put out a decent sandwich. That place is long gone and was replaced by Phillies which according to many people is very hit and miss. I personally haven’t been there in a few years due to a poor experience.

Don’t get the wrong idea, there’s plenty of places in Angeles to get a sandwich. Almost every hotel has a version of the highly overrated (yet very popular with Filipinos) Club sandwich. There’s also a couple of deli type stores/restaurants that will piece together a mediocre Subway-like sandwich for you. But for some reason those have never hit the spot for me and were always underwhelming. I was craving a sandwich that wasn’t boring.

The Banh Mi Sandwich Invasion

While there are always rumors of a Subway franchise opening in Angeles City none have ever come to fruition. Hopes were high with the opening of Marquee Mall and the SM Clark extension but they never materialized.

Subway’s absence and the lack of a quality sandwich available has opened up the market to one of the best sandwiches in the world: The Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. As reported on SleepEatGolf previously there are now several Vietnamese style restaurants that have staked a claim in Angeles and each one does their own version or versions of the world famous sandwich.

BBQ Pork

Thankfully, each restaurant has their own spin on how to create this masterpiece that balances the subtle and unique flavors that comes only from Vietnamese cuisine. I can honestly report that there are finally establishments in Angeles City to experience a proper, high quality sandwich that will make you forget your wishes of seeing a Subway franchise open here.

Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery

I found Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery completely by accident. I was traveling to Angeles City Proper looking for a company to have business cards printed. Fortunately I made a wrong turn and found myself staring at a small cafe with a sign simply reading “Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery.” I had just finished lunch but the place immediately struck me as a place I needed to return to very soon. Nothing made sense.

  1. I was far away from where most tourists ever visit in Angeles.
  2. I didn’t see any other foreigners nearby.
  3. There were no other restaurants in the adjacent vicinity.

These three things signaled to me that I may have stumbled upon a great find. In my experience these are usually the places serving up the best food.

Vietnamese Food

Some workers were outside painting words on a brick wall that looked eerily similar to what one would see at a modern American style cafe. I could barely see into the eatery as the shades were drawn due to the hot afternoon sun. What I could make out was an interior that looked clean, urban and modern. All of this struck me as very American in style and design. I decided that I would be back very soon to explore what quality of food this previously unknown, unheard of place was serving up.

Inside

Kitchen

The Return to Banh Mi

A few days later I was driving back to Angeles City Proper to pick up my business cards and planned on stopping by Banh Mi to sample their sandwich and get a better look at the place.  When I walked in the place was packed with 30 well dressed Filipinos. Time seemed to stand still and the festive environment changed to complete silence as I walked in and everyone stared at me.  I immediately sensed that I had dropped in uninvited on a private lunch.

This faux pas didn’t stop me and no one was asking me to leave so I walked up to the counter and ordered the BBQ Pork Banh Mi sandwich for 95 pesos (about $2.16). The luncheon seemed to be wrapping up anyway and I found a seat to dig in to the sandwich. I was immediately blown away at the high quality and deliciousness that danced around in my mouth and taste buds. I had finally found the elusive sandwich I’d been searching and hoping for in Angeles City.

Inside

The Next Day

I was so impressed with the sandwich at Banh Mi that I went back with my girlfriend the next day for lunch. I couldn’t wait to share this new find with her and I now had an excuse to try additional things on the menu.  We ordered:

  • Fresh Spring Rolls
  • Fried Spring Rolls
  • BBQ  Pork Banh Mi
  • Chicken Banh Mi

I also had a chance to speak with owner and Filipino American Rex Soriano. Rex has an impressive and extensive background in the restaurant business working and living in the United States for half his life. He’s worked for well known restaurants  and chefs like Nobu, Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. He opened Banh Mi about 2 years ago in Angeles  City Proper after finding a common love of Vietnamese cuisine and culture with his half-Vietnamese, half Filipina wife and full Vietnamese mother-in-law. He has future plans to open a branch in Manila and will occasionally add specialty items of his own creation to the current menu. More info on Rex can be found at the end of this article in a sit down video interview.

Employees

Menu & Food Review

The menu at Banh Mi is refreshingly small. Too many restaurants here give you a menu the size of a Bible. I usually take this as sign that they do everything pretty average and nothing is spectacular. Many times there are several items that are not even available.  Banh Mi specializes in 10 simple and authentic Vietnamese dishes and each item that I’ve tried so far have exceeded my expectations. They also have authentic Vietnamese style iced coffee available.

Fresh Spring Rolls – This delicious 2 piece item for 99 pesos (around $2.25)  comes with your choice of a peanut sauce or a pineapple alubebe (fermented fish sauce with pineapple) sauce. A well made, fresh spring roll is a healthy and filing option that is a great change of pace from your typical fried  variety.

Light Snack

The filling consists of Vietnamese noodles, crisp and fresh cucumbers, lettuce and basil along with shrimp and pork wrapped in rice paper. I went with the peanut sauce which was just sweet enough and complemented the rolls nicely. All in all the fresh spring rolls were spectacular.

Fried Spring Rolls – An order of 7 pieces comes with fresh lettuce, cilantro and a Vietnamese dipping sauce for 95 pesos (around $2.16). These were fried to perfection and nicely filled on the inside with a ground pork, noodles and carrot mixture. They were crisp and not oily. The sauce was vinegary and slightly sweet with a hint of garlic. While fried foods aren’t the healthiest option, wrapping these up in the lettuce and cilantro takes a lot of the guilt away and makes you feel like it’s a healthy snack.

Crispy

Meaty

BBQ Pork & Chicken Banh Mi – As the name suggests this establishment specializes in the Banh Mi sandwiche. This is the jewel in the crown of this cafe. The owner Rex Soriano has a deep rooted love for the Banh Mi sandwich and has created his own 3 versions with the help and guidance of his Vietnamese mother-in-law. His cold cut sandwich is made using pork belly and Vietnamese ham both of which he cures and processes in house. The sandwiches are priced from 90 to 99 pesos each (around $2.05 to $2.25).

The BBQ pork has a unique taste and texture. The bread is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. There’s a subtle pate spread which lifts the sandwich to another level, but most people (including myself) who despise liver will never realize what the unique flavor is. The meaty filling is topped with a dash of soy sauce, fresh cucumber, pickled carrots, pickled daikon radish and fresh cilantro.

Roasted Foul

Each layer of the sandwich is expressed in each bite and the flavors that mix together are heavenly. For those who want an added punch a siracha sauce is available table-side and with take out orders. There is also chili garlic sauce available that goes great with the sandwich.

For those less adventurous the chicken sandwich is the way to go. It’s depth of flavor is not nearly as exciting and complex as the BBQ pork or cold cuts, but it’s still a tasty sandwich nonetheless.

The Search is Over — Angeles City Now Has Bona Fide Sandwich Eateries

After years and years of searching for a sandwich that was on par with Subway the Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich and cuisine has arrived in Angeles City in force. There are now several restaurants that serve this distinctive, appetizing sandwich. Each place has their own spin or twist on how they prepare the sandwich and each restaurant is serving up a viable option for meeting my sandwich eating needs.

Flavor Nation

I’m looking forward to trying the rest of Rex’s dishes on frequent future visits. Tourists and expats alike should see another side of Angeles and check out the creations of Rex Soriano who is likely one of the best chefs in town you don’t know about. He’s focusing on food he loves, keeps the menu small to maintain authentic tastes and has a cozy cafe that foreigners will find warm, familiar and welcoming. If you’ve lived here for any number of years you owe it to yourself to get your hands on a proper sandwich at Banh Mi Vietnamese Eatery.

Below is an interview with Rex Soriano, owner of Banh Mi Vietnamese Eatery. Check out and subscribe to our SleepEatGolf YouTube Channel for additional videos coming soon.

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