The Flavour Report with Derek Goforth: Review of new Geraldton Vietnamese cafe Banh Mi Up

Derek GoforthGeraldton Guardian
A traditional banh mi.
Camera IconA traditional banh mi. Credit: Derek Goforth

For anyone who is familiar with South East Asian food, or even knows their way around street food in Perth and over east, would have already been lucky enough to sample the delicious concoction known as banh mi.

For the uninitiated, banh mi is a short baguette with a thin, crisp crust and soft, airy texture. It is often split lengthwise and filled with savoury ingredients such as pate, mayo, meat, pickled vegetables, onion, coriander, fresh chillies and seasoning.

Now Geraldton locals have their own banh mi specialty cafe, with a new eatery opening recently on Marine Terrace.

So we decided to give it a try. Given this was our first experience with Vietnamese street food we opted for the traditional banh mi, which among other goodies included poached pork, ham, chicken pate and some lovely crunchy, fresh veggies.

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The menu at this stage is limited, but given its name is Banh Mi Up, we didn’t really find this surprising.

We were given the option to have our banh mi tailor-made but opted for off the menu. Making our own banh mi is an option for next time though. At $11.50 it’s not too pricey but not that cheap either.

Service came with a smile, and the young lady navigating her way around the menu and the new register did so with ease. The cafe itself isn’t really built to eat inside being long and narrow. But there is ample seating outside and the foreshore is just 30 seconds walk, so this wasn’t really an issue.

The bread was soft with a crisp top, just right for the filling type. The two different types of pork complemented each other and the pickled veg added some interesting texture and a nice bit of zing. I could have done with some more mayo, but I also could have gone up and asked if I could ask for some more — which I decided, given how busy they were, I would leave to another time. A nice subtle mix of flavours, to be honest there could have been more meat in the meat-to-veg ratio.

I can see what the owners are going for with their new venture and I think they are close to achieving it, too. They have brought some authentic Vietnamese street food to the Mid West and have given even the most reluctant gourmet some easy entry dishes to get us started. There are options for meat lovers to vegans and all tastes and lifestyles in between. Noodle bowls, rice paper rolls and the usual soft drinks are also on the menu, plenty of options for everyone.

Although there is room for some improvement, I sincerely hope Banh Mi Up is the first of many such ventures. It makes a refreshing change from the bog standard (but often exceptional) Aussie cafes we have lining our foreshore and terrace.

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