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When Anh Chaimontree was growing up in Hamilton she spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her grandmother, Hong Nguyen.

Her earliest job was pretty basic – plucking herbs – but her grandmother began teaching her more and more about the light, fresh flavours and ingredients that underpin her family's Vietnamese cuisine.

 

 
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The family-style Vietnamese food that Anh learned from her grandmother remains at the heart of the restaurant, which offers a mix of classic Vietnamese street food, noodle dishes and salads. There is banh mi (filled baguette), banh xeo (savoury pancake); goi cuon (summer rolls); goi (mint and cabbage salad); bun (noodle salad); pho (noodle soup), and more. There is a vegan menu as well, and desserts such as rice pudding and Vietnamese-inspired banana cake.

 
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Banh Mi Caphe is run by Anh and her chef husband, Pat Chaimontree. 

 
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Nowadays many more people get to enjoy Hong's recipes; they are the core of the menu at Banh Mi Caphe, the Vietnamese eatery in Victoria St.

 
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"Our food is light, we want people to appreciate the herbs, the crunchy shallots and peanuts. The sauce or dressing is always just to finish, not drown the food; you still want to taste the coriander and mint."

 

Pat says herbs are key to Vietnamese food – the sharp flavours of coriander and mint – along with fresh vegetables, delicious sauces, noodles and broths. Vietnam's long-ago French colonisers also had a strong influence on local cuisine. Banh mi – the baguettes that his eatery is named for – are a case in point, a French standard filled with fresh Vietnamese ingredients.

 

Come say hi!

About story credit to: DENISE IRVINE