One of life’s hidden blessings is living a short walk away from nice eating places. It doesn’t always have to be fancy, swanky places or franchises of big chains. Personally, we at Happyfoodies are big fans of small establishments, hole-in-the-walls and mom-and-pop operations whose offerings defy their size and relative obscurity. Stumbling upon BonBanhmi along Mayapis in Makati is a good example, a small nondescript shop operated from the house. If it weren’t for the small sign, it’s fairly easy to miss. The giveaway sight is the usual display counter. For an eating area, it has a converted garage furnished with monobloc tables and chairs. But if the place is simple, the food is anything but.
Lagal[og] says: Oh, the menu is short and straightforward. But boy, the food, particularly the Cho Gio (fried spring rolls) and BanhMi took me back to Hanoi. The baguettes they use are really crunchy, the way I want them. The filling is very flavorful. We got lucky on our first visit here as the spring rolls which were normally only available whenever there’s a big order or during the weekends was ready for tasting. Reminded me of the particularly memorable Cho Gio we had in Sapa, north Vietnam, many years ago.
Caught in the reverie of that dish, we engaged in a banter with the guy inside the makeshift eating area. Lucky us, he turned out to be the owner, Thao. This is one of the charms of hole-in-the-walls and small family operations — you can chat with the owners and the cook freely without any fanfare. And best of all, you walk away not just with a happy tummy but also a new insight on the food. For one, we were happy to be enlightened about the nuances of cooking in the north and south of Vietnam (Thao hails from Ho Chi Minh) much in the same way that adobo here in the Philippines has regional variations. Regardless of the influence, I can only sum up the food as very, very good.
Ironwulf says: I was particularly glad to see that real Vietnamese nationals were manning this hole-in-the wall establishment along Mayapis in Makati. It definitely does give an impression of authenticity. We excitedly ordered two of their four variants available, the Traditional Banhmi and Roast Pork Banhmi. The traditional Banhmi was reminiscent of the ones I tasted on the streets of Vietnam but a lot more flavorful, with better ingredients. The baguette was crunchy and the sauce had just the right spiciness I wanted. The Roast Pork Banmhi was a bit on the sweet side but I did like how crunchy the pork was, it’s very much like I was eating liempo. My favorite is still the traditional variant, though.
To complement our snack, we also tried their Vietnamese ice coffee in black and brown variants. The former has that pleasant deep roasted flavor and the latter was a lot creamier. A word of warning though, while I’m accustomed to drinking coffee even in the evening, this one was strong enough to keep me awake until early morning.
Lagal[og] adds: Speaking of coffee, both variants were really strong and robust which is just the way I want them and the way I remembered back in Hanoi. Thao told us he’s offering a combination of the Banhmi and coffee during breakfast time which is a fantastic deal. We asked him why he is not selling pho, the quintessential Vietnam food, in his store. He told us ingredients are not easy to procure and he would rather focus on selling banhmis. A rather good and brave business decision, I must say.
8390 Mayapis Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City
Tel. 808-7979 • Email [email protected] • www.bonbanhmi.net
Delivery within the Makati area only for minimum of order worth P300