Located at 132 Russell Street, Melbourne CBD, Baget has been stopping foot traffic on Russell Street with divine banh mi. Banh mi has assumed cult status in Melbourne and in its simplest form is a combo of French bread and Vietnamese ingredients in an extraordinary baguette.
On a cold winter afternoon, I happened to come across Baget which prompted me to revisit it soon afterwards for another dose of Vietnamese cuisine, this time with my entourage of two friends. And for the second time, I ordered the grilled lemongrass chicken banh mi which had become a personal favourite.
The grilled lemongrass chicken banh mi is in one word sensational. The freshly made baguettes are crusty outside and light and soft inside. The generous fillings of juicy and tender grilled chicken in combination with fried onion, egg butter, pickled carrot and daikon (white radish), cucumber, coriander and hoisin sauce makes the banh mi the ultimate foodie delight. The addition of fresh, red chilli further elevates the flavour making every bite of the banh mi an absolute treat. The delicate balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavours is astounding.
Of course, you can tailor the banh mi to meet your requirements by asking the staff to add more chilli, onion or anything else you desire for a little extra. I also tried their complimentary pandan tea which has a strange taste and failed to strike a chord with my palate.
My friends had ordered the Buddha's tofu baget and classic meat baget. My vegetarian friend, Kirthika, who had ordered the tofu baget devoured her baget while incessantly exclaiming, 'OMG, this is good'. Classic meat baget was an instant hit with my other friend John who wolfed down his baget and excitedly proclaimed that he would happily travel miles for this tasty treat. We agreed in unison that these were the best banh mi we have ever sampled.
Grilled lemongrass chicken banh mi (Image by Joya D)
Epicureans will also delight at other banh mi varieties such as rice tomato meatball baget, grilled lemongrass pork baget, classic meat baget, breakfast baget and so on. Each banh mi is priced at $6.50. Baget also sells a wide array of vermicelli noodle bowls priced at $8.50 which are loaded with fresh and scrumptious toppings. There are even gluten free options.
Baget has a charming interior. The fit out is quite striking. The vibrant turquoise against the rich red colour as well the remarkable attention to detail such as the hand painted red lettering on the beige walls, the subtle French influence of the fleur-de-lys (stylised lily), the woven basket lampshades. The small yet tastefully decorated interior is inviting and welcoming in an uncluttered way.
The service is efficient, professional and attentive. It took a mere 5 minutes from ordering our food at the counter to the making of the banh mi right in front of us.
Baget opened its doors to the public on 28 March 2014 and is owned by Duy Huynh and his family, who have operated Vietnamese bakeries in Sunshine and St Albans for the past 21 years. Melbourne is an epicentre for cuisines from all parts of the world. A strong presence of the Vietnamese cuisine can be felt when you walk down the streets of Melbourne. In the midst of these countless Vietnamese restaurants Baget stands out for its delicious authenticity, great selection of meats and the traditional Vietnamese flavours of sweet, sour, salty and a touch of chilli. You can learn more about Baget by visiting the official website or by following them on Facebook.