Call me lazy (true) or call me busy (dubious) but I will have you believe that the reason it’s taken over 3 months to write this blog entry is because I’ve been plagued by a matter that has caused so much debate, so much rivalry and heated discussion that I could not possibly publish this entry without first having done sufficient research to methodically present the evidence and settle the issue.
I’m not saying that I’ve found the best Bánh Mì Xíu Mại and pitched it against the best Döner Kebab. I’m not saying that this type of food is superior to that type. I’m not even suggesting that the life expectancy or muscle structure of one race is greater than the other based solely on the consumption of these 2 food items alone. No.
What I do want to say is this: that according to my tastes, in my locality and what is readily available to me I would personally reach for a Bánh Mì Xíu Mại (Vietnamese for meatball roll) over a Döner Kebab (Turkish for Doner Kebab). This has met and will likely continue to be met with much criticism and abuse but it’s for this very reason I am writing this entry, and the reason it even became a topic worthy of being written about.
I’d like to clarify that this is in the context of late night dining where nothing else is really open (apart from McDonalds or service stations) – which is the only time I would consider a Döner Kebab anyway. What makes it more complicated is it’s not generally the time people consider eating Bánh Mì either.
In Cabramatta, there is a Việt Hoa bakery on John St that operates 24 hours (another on Hill St). In the grand scheme of things their Bánh Mì is good but not fantastic, but in the wee hours of the night/morning there is no competition. Side note: the KK Hot Bread a few doors down in my opinion makes some of the best Bánh Mì Thịt Nguội (cold pork roll) and Bánh Mì Nem Nướng (grilled pork mince roll) in Cabramatta, maybe even the world! (for the record I don’t think the chicken or meatballs there are to the same standard though)
What’s special about the Xíu Mại (meatballs) at Việt Hoa is that they are kept steaming hot in an electric stove and are only removed after you place an order and they begin to assemble the roll. The chilli they use (a must for me) is also exceptionally hot and adds a nice big hit of flavour and colour contrast to the sandwich, cutting through the meaty, fatty flavours – something missing from kebabs.
Most other Bánh Mì Xíu Mại purveyors I’ve seen keep their meatballs in a bain-marie at luke-warm temperatures – not a good start. Add some weak chilli to the equation and that pitiful excuse for a Bánh Mì will be more to the effect of “bin me”.
Another clear advantage and definite win in my books for Bánh Mì over Kebabs is ration sizes. The former will set you back $4 while the latter will set you back $8-10. Of course the kebab is more filling but sometimes – especially late at night – you just don’t want to eat that much so it’s good to have the option of eating less without waste. At the end of the day (or night) if you’re still hungry you could just eat a second Bánh Mì.
So if for whatever reason you’re in the area late at night, are hungry and seek some hot, freshly prepared food then my pick is clearly the Bánh Mì Xíu Mại.