Hi Bánh Mì: Hidden gem in Geylang with $4 banh mi & rustic vibes that remind you of Vietnam
Who doesn’t love a good loaf of bread? I know I can’t resist one, especially the crispy banh mi that originates from Vietnam. Recently, we got to try out Hi Bánh Mì at Geylang.
I’ve come to the realisation that Geylang is filled with hidden foodie gems. The unassuming, old-school exterior of shop houses with rich architectural heritage really disguises the different types of food that you’ll find here.
Along the perimeters of 340 Geylang Road sits Hi Báhn Mì, which specialises in Vietnamese cuisine. Within its proximity are other Vietnamese-run stalls, from goldsmiths to salons. Like their stall name, the shop was simple and compact, simply greeting us with a gesture of “hi”!
To my pleasant surprise, Hi Bánh Mì also had low tables and chairs that added to the whole authentic Vietnamese experience. It was only during my recent trip to Ho Chi Minh that made me learn more about Vietnamese culture and how they’d past time.
Their national favourite past time is people watching, which explains why you’ll see low stools scattered outside most cafes in Saigon. I loved how Hi Bánh Mì provided a glimpse of Vietnam all over again, especially with the pop music and native language filling up the background noise.
What differentiates Hi Bánh Mì from other banh mi stalls in Singapore is the wide menu of 9 banh mi flavours. They even have a Sunny Side Up Sandwich (S$4) and a Sardine Banh Mi (S$5.50), which I think isn’t very commonly found in Singapore!
What I tried at Hi Bánh Mì
Well, the only way to be certain that these banh mis are of quality is to try out signature flavours that taste similar to the ones I had in Vietnam. Hence, I opted for the Homemade Special Sandwich (S$6.90) and Crispy Roasted Pork Sandwich (S$5.50). Perhaps, these would be more familiar to our palates since they’re in the less experimental range.
During my meal, I noticed that the Homemade Special Sandwich was a common item that was constantly ordered. This is the best seller containing 4 kinds of homemade pork, freshly cured by Tammy, the owner. This process ensures control over flavours, allowing her to customise the salt levels of the meat.
Think of this option as a traditional banh mi in Vietnam where you’d get all cuts of meat, from sliced ham to chopped cuts of cartilages. However, how they stand out is the addition of pork floss that ties in nicely with the salty flavours of ham and crunchy bites of fresh radish and vegetables.
In addition, their homemade sauce and pate spread adds in a sprinkle of sweetness into the whole meat-filled baguette— an elegant play of flavours.
Next, we have the Crispy Roasted Pork Sandwich. I was really excited to try out this option because it contains pork belly, and who doesn’t love pork belly?
Just thinking about the layer of crispiness from the pork fat coming together with a bite of their crusty baguettes is making me salivate. Oh, this was great!
To start, the buns had a perfect ratio of softness, crispiness and flakiness. They were fluffy in the centre and flaky on the outside, so when you take a bite, it isn’t difficult to chew.
This option was comparatively greener than the other, probably to balance out the flavours from their sinful choice of meat.
I’m not complaining though— the addition of coriander made the hearty pork belly more pronounced. The floral, earthiness of coriander acted as a foil to the rich meats, and the contrasting flavours made it even more addictive. I guess the saying of how opposites attract is reinstated in this scenario.
You’ll get slices of chillies inside if you opt for the spicy version. I particularly liked how this sandwich hit all aspects of spiciness, sweetness and saltiness.
And… We’re onto desserts! We had the Vietnamese Fried Bananas, commonly referred to as goreng pisang. They’re almost the same thing, except Hi Bánh Mì adds sesame seeds into the coated batter.
Freshly made to order, these came in piping hot. The pure luxury of biting into the soft melted banana brought me utmost joy. Every bite came with a golden crisp of fragrant twice-fried batter that blended nicely with the contrasting sweet flavours. As the self-proclaimed lover of anything banana flavoured, I approve!
Hi Bánh Mì is truly a hidden gem in Geylang. To let you in on my thoughts, I’m already thinking of the Beef Banh Mi or the spicy noodles (bun bo hue) in the secret menu that I would love to try out on my next visit. I was searching for them in the main menu, but apparently these are secret menu items that only true regulars know about. Now, you’re in on the secret too.
Furthermore, at such affordable prices, you don’t even need to buy a ticket to Vietnam to appreciate their culture and food. Just grab a bun, sit on one of the stools, and watch the busy streets of Geylang at Hi Bánh Mì.
Expected damage: S$4 – S$6.90 per pax
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