The banh mi is to my mom what the P&J or fried baloney sandwich is to yours – a delicious and easy (re: abused) sandwich solution to the lunch box dilemma of my youth. After consuming almost a lifetime’s worth before I even hit my teens, I can still eat and be awed by one like it was the first time. A few posts ago, I pledged my allegiance to Marché Kim Phat and several of you pointed out that I could do better with Marché Hung Phat in mind. You were right. Please keep those e-mails coming! The ones re: marriage proposals and dates on the other hand, I could do without…
Marché Hung Phat isn’t a grocery store with a sandwich shop, it’s a sandwich shop with some groceries and a lot of free space to accommodate all those Asian ladies ordering banh mi by the dozen. Legit? I think so. Props for variety – I counted a total of ten sandwiches on the menu, two veggie options included. Dirt cheap and filling is the way of the banh mi and here they’re a hair pricier than most at $3.50-$4.00 (tax included) apiece. Nonetheless, best kind of sandwich for its value fo sho.
The Regular ($3.50) tastes anything but regular. It’s stuffed with all the regular fixings of a basic banh mi: Asian cold cuts, liver paté, mayo, soya sauce, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber, coriander and a squirt of their signature BBQ sauce. Overall, it’s fatty and salty but the sweet and sour veggies brighten it up as a whole. There’s a lot of pressure on the baguette to deliver and it does! The crust is near perfection as it crackles and shatters to give way to a light and fluffy middle that tears off so easily you could finish the whole thing in minutes – I ate mine under three. The verdict: light, fresh and delicious.
At $4.00, the most expensive item on the menu (#8) features sautéed beef. It begins with good bread, a crusty-soft baguette, halves smeared with mayo. Beef comes next; it’s tender enough and the homemade BBQ sauce highlights the sweet marinade without overpowering the subtle hint of lemongrass. The usual veggies are last to go in. All in all a solid option when you need a time-out from mysterious (but damn tasty) Asian cold cuts.
Have you ever tasted, let alone seen a banh mi with meatballs and tomato sauce? What the…? At Marché Hung Phat, they call it the Xiu Mai ($3.50). I thought I’d hate it but sweet balls of meat, it’s amazing – my favorite so far. You want three balls? Too bad, you only get two big, super moist pork balls. They don’t look appetizing at first, that “tomato jelly” they’re set in – cold tomato sauce that firms up like jello thanks to all that lard – is a sore for the eyes. But all is well after a quick warm-up in the microwave (don’t be a snob for $3.50). They’re broken apart and shoved into that wonderful baguette prepped with mayo along with the quintessential veggies. How do the balls measure up? They’re sweet, and sweet meat is how the Asian do, so they fit right in. I love how full and sloppy this baby is with juices and sauce sinking into the nooks and crannies of the bread – it’s different but the flavors are distinctly banh mi. Amazeballs. Literally.
Many people believe Marché Hung Phat is home to the best banh mi in Montreal. I really need to get around to the other contenders, but right now, my banh mi bar is set at Marché Hung Phat. All Vietnamese sandwiches to be consumed from here on out will be judged accordingly. Banh mi of Montreal, are you ready for the challenge?
N.B. Closed Tuesday | Cash Only
Marché Hung Phat
7099 rue St-Denis | map