BANH MI from eating it everyday (har har)
Yes I lived in Vancouver my whole life, and I have not ever stepped foot in this main street local cheap eats vietnamese cafe. To be fair though, I haven’t gotten the foodie bug until a few years back, so I have every reason to be behind my foodie game.
K enough excuses, back to talking about the nomness of this little gem…
Stepping into the restaurant, my friend and I were greeted very warmly by the restaurant owner and his staff, who immediately handed us menus so we weren’t left drooling at the food at the table next to us. The restaurant was small in size, about 20 or so seating, tables were quite close to each other too. The setting wasn’t anything fancy, just a typical decently maintained, asian-vancouver restaurant that looks like its been around for awhile.
It was a no brainer what I was gonna order, which was the very famous Banh Mi Dac Biet (Bahn Mi #1 on the menu)- a vietnamese sub: french bread with veggies, vietnamese ham and their own addition of Xiao Mai, which everyone terms it as “meatball”, but actually translates to the staple Chinese dim sum, without the iconic yellow wrap and shrimp pieces. You can also get it with hot peppers but i opted it out since I dont do spicy.
After my first bite, I got it, I got it. I understood why my friends freaked out when I told them that I havent been to this place, given that its been opened for more than a decade.
The bread was incredible fresh, warm and had a super crunchy exterior, with a soft airy interior; not rock hard/dense throughout. The xiao mai inside provided the bun with juicy fatty goodness, which in combination with the chopped pickled veggies, gave a mouthful of well balanced textures. The light sour tang of the carrots, along with the fragrant cilantro offsetted the heavier flavours of the buttery meat.
I like that Au Petite’s viet sub was not drowning with mayo, like some nasty subs that i’ve tried in vancity. I do wish that there couldve been a tinnnyyyyyy bit more veggies, but that’s because i’m a huge fan of veggies, especially pickled ones. Also compared to previous photos submitted on urbanspoon, the veggie ratio seemed to have, decreased? I dont think I got a cucumber in mine… 😦
My friend, who’s been a fan of the restaurant for years now, ordered the Banh Mi Boh Kho, beef stew with a side of french bread for dipping. Lucky me, it is also one of my favourite things to order at vietnamese restaurants too and so I got to snag a bite. The flavours were abundant; hearty beef flavours with a touch of tomato essence, which many times overwhelms the beef flavour goodness. Stew was not overly salty, and with the french bread, it was the perfect comfort meal for the approaching chilly vancouver autumn weather.
If you’ve never had a banh mi, you must know that the addition of the xiao mai is not an essential ingredient in a traditional vietnamese sub. A traditional banh mi consist of various cold cuts, liver pate and mixed veggies, which Au Petite does have on their menu – Banh Mi Thit Nguoi #2. During our visit though, I couldn’t help but stare at the Cha Gio, vietnamese spring roll, at the table next to us. It looked delectable, with its perfectly fried rice paper encasing a bundle of ground meat and diced mushrooms and veggies. Ugh, thinking about it makes me salivate.
So yes, I will be back for sure. For a vietnamese restaurant of such casual sitting, the cost of the items were a bit higher than the usual ones found around vancouver. There’s always been a huge debate amongst Vancouverites about whether Ba Le, another vietnamese sub sandwich shop, orAu Petite Cafe, holds the crown for the best viet sub in Vancouver. Its been awhile since I’ve had a Ba Le sub, so to be fair, I’m not going to compare the two until I refresh my palette memory. To sum up, I loved the banh mi I had and most definitely will be back to eat everything on the menu! om nom nom nom nom
Au Petite Cafe
4851 Main Street, Vancouver, BC