Banh Mi Adelaide CBD Roundup - The Search for the Perfect Pork Roll

Banh Mi Adelaide CBD Roundup

Our first Adelaide banh mi roundup, if we say so ourselves, was pretty epic - 27 locations, five people and one long afternoon of eating and talking all things banh mi (with some room for gelato of course). Most importantly, we had some great interaction with you, our readers.

The suburban roundup sits on top of our list of most popular posts, with over 50,000 unique views and 64 comments (or heated discussion rather) creating some healthy debate on other banh mi dedicated forums, like the banh mi appreciation group. The activity we've seen on Facebook has alone totalled 140 comments since 2014. So, of course this was reason to swing part two into action.

We know that a truly unbiased review can only be accomplished if everything is reviewed 'blind' and in one sitting. We picked a weekday where all of us involved (Amanda, Jess P, Camellia and Nathan, along with our old friend and original suburban banh mi judge Hayes) were available and used a map generator along with some solid research to create our game plan to find Adelaide's best CBD dwelling roll.

Our goal was simple, to find the best tasting roast pork banh mi in the Adelaide square by ordering the exact same roll from each shop. Like our previous roundup, the order was meticulously selected as, "roast pork banh mi with all veggies, pate and chili".

Based on our research, we identified over 30 stores within the CBD (who would have thunk it!). We narrowed this down to 22 by calling each store to see if they were open on the Monday in question, and ensuring that they sold the signature roast pork that we were all craving. To achieve our goal, we would review all 22 CBD locations in one sitting by blind tasting and using a scorecard with points based on the following criteria:

Bread - 5 points for look, feel, taste, texture and crunch.
Filling - 5 points for freshness, pork crackling, flavour, vegetables and condiments.
Overall taste - 10 points for overall taste and enjoyment.

Combine these and you have a final score out of 20.

The price for each banh mi is noted, but only provides a subjective rating for our readers and was only considered as an afterthought.


22 Roast Pork Banh Mi

Map of all our tastings

The blind test was enabled by another friend of the blog, Caitlin, labelling each store with a random number. Our score cards were numbered with rows from 1-22. Only Caitlin would know which store she would associate a number to. Each banh mi was cut into 5 pieces and placed on a plate with a number from 1-22. The scoring of each roll below is an average of our 5 individual scoring sheets.

The Results

Tammy's Meat Roll $7.00
Name: Tammys Meat Rolls, 254 Hindley Street
Bread: 3.4
Filling: 2.2
Overall: 4.6
Comments: Is there chicken in here? It tasted okay, good heat from chilli but this is not the banh mi we ordered.

Final Score: 10.2 / 20


Love Pho $6.50
Name: Love Pho, Myer Food Court
Bread: 3.0
Filling: 3.6
Overall: 6.2
Comments: Got some crunch on my crackle, bread too soft and a little soggy, cucumber nice and fresh but very thickly sliced, no real flavour overall.

Final Score: 12.8 / 20

Daily Choice $5.50
Name: Daily Choice, Southern Cross Arcade
Bread: 2.4
Filling: 2.4
Overall: 4.6
Comments: Lettuce and butter, not a great combo - maybe in a kids sandwich.  Pork was chewy.

Final Score: 9.4 / 20

Miss Mai $7.00
Name: Miss Mai, 9A James Place
Bread: 4.2
Filling: 3.0
Overall: 6.6
Comments: Reminiscent of a Sunday roast.  Nice mix of vegetables and a great bread roll, although missing the coriander.

Final Score: 13.8 / 20

Little Hanoi $7.00
Name: Little Hanoi, 6/118 King William Street
Bread: 3.8
Filling: 2.8
Overall: 5.6
Comments: Roll was a little soft but overall good bread.  There was a strange taste we couldn't work out. And mayo?! So much mayo. Why would you do this?

Final Score: 12.2 / 20

Jarn Leva $5.80
Name: Jarn Leva, David Jones Food Court
Bread: 3.6
Filling: 4.0
Overall: 8.2
Comments: A little let down by the soft bread but good tasty pork, hot chilli, fresh coriander and great pickled carrot and daikon, very nice! 

Final Score: 15.8 / 20


Bread Temptations $7.00
Name: Bread Temptations, Shop 1, Currie St (Topham Mall)
Bread: 2.6
Filling: 2.2
Overall: 4.6
Comments: The addition of red onion and cold chewy pork let this one down. Bread squashed to a soggy nothing.

Final Score: 9.4 / 20

Long's Kitchen $5.90
Name: Long's Kitchen, 98 Flinders Street
Bread: 2.0
Filling: 1.8
Overall: 3.2
Comments: This was drier than an Adelaide summer. Just too much bread with no spreads, and again, why lettuce?!  

Final Score: 7.0 / 20

Thu Nguyet $7.00
Name: Thu Nguyet, 82 Waymouth Street
Bread: 3.4
Filling: 4.0
Overall: 7.8
Comments: Great overall flavour, crunchy tasty pork, hot chilli, good amount of coriander but bread letting it down slightly.

Final Score: 15.2 / 20

Fresh Bites $6.30
Name: Fresh Bites, 80 Flinders Street
Bread: 3.0
Filling: 2.4
Overall: 4.4
Comments: I needed some hummus dip for all that raw carrot. This was a carrot roll.

Final Score: 9.8 / 20


Zen Kitchen $6.50
Name: Zen Kitchen, Unit 7/2 Renaissance Arcade
Bread: 3.2
Filling: 1.8
Overall: 4.0
Comments: Good bread but no crunchy pork, more like deli sliced pork.  Almost tastes like BBQ chips with the five spice overload.

Final Score: 9.0 / 20


Vietnamese Laundry $6.50
Name: Vietnamese Laundry, 154 Sturt Street
Bread: 2.6
Filling: 2.2
Overall: 4.4
Comments: Too much pickled carrot, overpowering taste.  Chilli brought some heat but bread got soggy.

Final Score: 9.2 / 20



VN Delishh $6.20
Name: VN Delishh, 92 Gawler Place (Could be closed now)
Bread: 3.4
Filling: 3.0
Overall:  5.8
Comments: Pork was nice but no crunch, good pate but too heavy on the red onions.

Final Score: 12.2 / 20


Soonta $7.30
Name: Soonta, 7/20 James Place
Bread: 2.0
Filling: 3.8
Overall: 6.4
Comments: Tasty pork with good crunch but the roll was a bit soft and sweet and the carrot limp.

Final Score: 12.2 / 20


Sit Lo $7.50
Name: Sit Lo, 30 Bank Street
Bread: 2.8
Filling: 2.6
Overall: 5.6
Comments: Good fresh coriander, chilli added heat but needed much more flavour.

Final Score: 11 / 20


Phonatic $7.50

Name: Phonatic, 171 Hindley Street
Bread: 4.2
Filling: 3.8
Overall: 8.1
Comments: Red onion was the only reason why it got a lower score - otherwise a great roll!

Final Score: 16.1 / 20


Saigon Times $6.00
Name: Saigon Times, 185 Victoria Square
Bread: 4.6
Filling: 3.4
Overall: 7.2
Comments: Great bread and overall roll with a good balance of contents, but tasted really sweet. This was like a dessert Banh Mi!

Final Score: 15.2 / 20


Asian Taste $5.00

Name: Asian Taste, Renaissance Arcade
Bread: 2.6
Filling: 2.2
Overall: 4.4
Comments: Very soft roll, not a nice flavour. Addition of mayo and lettuce, no thanks?!

Final Score: 9.2 / 20


Banh Mi - Vietnamese Rolls $8.50

Name: Bánh Mì - Vietnamese Rolls, 2/25 Grenfell Street
Bread: 3.0
Filling: 2.2
Overall: 5.2 
Comments: Looked great with an abundance of filling and had good pickled carrot but on a whole tasted bland with a lack of crunchy pork.

Final Score: 10.4 / 20


Green Bites $7.00
Name: Green Bites, Gawler Place
Bread: 2.8
Filling: 2.4
Overall: 5.0
Comments: Good crunchy pork but the mayo and spring onion was overpowering.

Final Score: 10.2 / 20


Miss Lantern $5.50 (Large)
Name: Miss Lantern, Central Markets (near Ace's, in the location where Wendy's once was)
Bread: 4.4 
Filling: 4.3
Overall: 8.4
Comments: Great crunchy pork, good bread and awesome pate. Really well balanced elements and flavours.  Addition of onion was unnecessary.

Final Score: 17.1 / 20


Pitt Stop Cafe $6.00
Name: Pitt Stop Cafe, 10 Pitt Street
Bread: 3.0
Filling: 2.4
Overall: 4.6
Comments: This just tasted weird. Sweet and weird.

Final Score: 10 / 20

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SCORE SUMMARY:

Below is a table indicating our final findings listed in descending order of total rating (averaged between 5 different tasters) for the inner-city locations. Just to recap...

Bread: score is out of 5, determined by the crunchiness, texture, look and taste of the bread itself.

Filling: score is out of 5, determined by the taste, flavour, amount, freshness and crunchiness of the fillings (roast pork, veggies, pate, condiments).

Overall: score is out of 10, determined by the overall taste and enjoyment of the Banh Mi.

Total: Sum of all scores out of 20.


In conclusion:

As you can see we take our banh mi reviews seriously!  We're talking solid nap post-review and a brief stint of the meat-sweats.

Out of the 22 locations we reviewed, we would like to enthusiastically congratulate the top 3, Miss Lantern, Phonatic, and Jarn Leva.

All of us are super passionate about offering honest opinions on the food we put into our mouths, especially when that food is a roast pork banh mi. Our current #OTCBontour member Mirko, has even travelled to Vietnam in search of the best banh mi, which you can read in the Vietnam round up!

Please go forth and enjoy the well rounded pork roll offerings! If you have any feedback for us we would love to hear from you in the comments below.  Did your favourite make the list?  We know some of our usual favourites did not make the top of this list!




11 comments:

  1. Some interesting addition. On long's Kitchen in the write up there fellas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for pointing that out James, we've now corrected it. Hope you enjoyed the roundup.

      Delete
  2. Absolutely agree on the #1 spot. My favourite go-to place for a regular banh mi fix!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great to hear Maria. Let us know if we've missed any of your other faves.

      Delete
  3. Hi, I made a quick scatter plot of the data. The best places are located on the top left. Thanks for the great reviews.

    http://imgur.com/LteytlV

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice write up. I wish I hadn't just eaten lunch because I really wanna try a banh mi from Miss Lantern now. Tomorrow it will be mine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Adelaide City Cafe on Angas St is very good

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Miss Mai shop now operates out of nearby 73 Gawler Place in the Adelaide CBD. Same chef and now with fried and steamed rice on the menu.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Miss Mai has moved to 73 Gawler Place, Adelaide 5000. Same chef and with an expanded menu that includes fried and steamed rice ! Thanks for all your support over the last year ! Our shop is closed for Christmas and new year and will reopen on Tuesday 3rd January.

    Our shop at 9a James Place has permanently closed.

    Miss Mai brings authentic Vietnamese food to the lunch table. Our chef grew up in Vietnam and brings her simple, yet refined palate of Vietnamese / French Colonial fusion food for your enjoyment.

    ReplyDelete

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