Bánh mì Booth pop-up @ Kirkstall Bridge Inn, Leeds

I’d spotted on good old Twitter that relative newcomer to the street food scene Emily Boothroyd, who’s mission is to bring the Vietnamese Bánh mì up North was doing a pop up at the Kirkstall Bridge Inn. I’d eaten them in London but hadn’t seen them anywhere else, so I ventured up last night asking a foodie friend to join me in the process. Last month I’d had a lovely evening at the Kirkstall Bridge Inn enjoying a pint and a platter, but this evening was a completely different affair.

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For people who are unfamiliar with the Bánh mì, it’s a Vietnamese phrase which refers to bread, in particular the baguette. From what I’d researched traditionally the bread for bánh mì usually has a light, crusty exterior, but it isn’t uncommon to see a version with a softer crust and lots of soft bread, so I was particularly interested in the bread being used and of course the fillings!

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The menu comprised a selection of treats to snack on, such as the Six spice pork crackling and Crispy ‘no name’ veg fritters, at £1.50 and £2.50 respectively. For those wanting something more substantial there was the bánh mì sandwich and rice noodle dishes with different fillings/toppings at £5, or £6 with a fried egg.

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It was good to see the locality of the ingredients was very important to the philosophy of the food, with many ingredients being sourced from local producers – Bondgate Bakery (bread), Neil’s Quality Greengrocer and Allan Morton Butchers of Distinction, based in Horsforth. 

So after a quick look at the menu I decided on the bánh mì with char sui BBQ pork, being a pork lover and having eaten plenty of char sui in my time, I was intrigued to see how this fared to those I’d eaten in the past. I also saw pork crackling on the menu, so it was a no brainer that I’d have to sample a portion of that too, while my friend chose the rice noodles with tofu and aubergine.

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The pork crackling was already bagged up and raring to go, so I could sample these almost immediately while waiting for my bánh mì to arrive.

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For me good pork crackling has ultimately got to be crisp and flavourful, with the sound from the first bite that’s recognised even when your eyes are shut and you can’t rely on your other senses to tell you what it is!! These were very tasty bite sized morsels – light, crisp and highly flavoured. Whatever the spices were in this concoction they were certainly hitting the right notes. A great bar snack and a lovely alternative to traditional pork scratchings!

A little while later our main dishes were brought over, in addition a tray of condiments which we could add to our own taste were available. 

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I thought my bánh mì looked the part and was very generously filled. You could see all the different layers of ingredients wanting to play their part in this story.  What I tend to find with these is that they are quite difficult to hold as they are long, and it’s often hard to keep everything in without it all falling out. This of course didn’t detract from the flavours on show.

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The char sui pork had a pleasant flavour, but I prefer it to be a little more intense and flavourful. I really liked the different textures and flavours with crisp onions, cool refreshing cucumber (which I normally hate), the pickled daikon and carrot helped to cut through any richness, The egg which possessed a yolk like the golden Sun was a great addition, providing the sandwich with its own sauce. I’d definitely go for two eggs next time, one for each half! Fresh coriander was always there in the background, with its pungent flavour that can be a love/hate ingredient, in this instance it was a definite love. The bread was good, but I prefer it with a crustier outside and less bread in the centre, rather than these which were more like a submarine roll, soft on the outside and more bread in the centre. It is, as always just personal preference though.

My friend very much enjoyed her noodle dish, and I did try a bit, the tofu and aubergine were well flavoured, the other ingredients weren’t scrimped on and the noodles were silky smooth. It would have been nice if there had been chopsticks to use, as my friend, for whatever reason struggled to eat it with a plastic fork.

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All in all we had a tasty meal, and it didn’t put a huge hole in our pockets, in total our food cost £12.50 for 2 people. On my next Bánh mì experience, of which I’m sure there’ll be a next time, I definitely want to try the veg fritters, after seeing photos of these they looked fantastic!!

The Bánh mì Booth has finally been unleashed in Leeds and I’m sure will be going from strength to strength, Emily has already planned more appearances at different street food events, such as Brandon Mills Night Market on 28th March. Go on and get the Bánh mì up treatment!

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Bánh mì Booth
https://www.facebook.com/banhmibooth
@eehbanhmi
http://www.banhmibooth.com

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