240 Forest Road
Hurstville, NSW 2220
When I first moved into my current apartment, I was thrilled to discover that King’s Hot Bread, just a suburb over, is known for doing one of the best banh mi in Sydney. But hang on, you might ask, if I’m so thrilled about it, why has it taken me a year and a half to finally try it? For once I actually have a good reason, instead of having to attribute it to sheer laziness. King’s Hot Bread may only be one suburb away, but there’s another excellent Vietnamese bakery just 2 minutes from my house that also does some phenomenal pork rolls, but without lines snaking out the door morning, noon, and night. And frankly, I’m willing to sacrifice a smidge of quality in order to not have to wait in line for 15 minutes every time I want a sandwich.
But finally, 18 months on, the stars lined up just right. Chris and I both had a rare Thursday off, which provided the perfect opportunity to circumvent the massive weekend queues. Even though the line was still about 8 people long, with 4 efficient sandwich artists at the counter, it only took a couple minutes for us to get to the front. And that turned to be a bit of a mixed blessing; although there isn’t much in the way of baked goods to tempt, the range of fillings for the rolls was absolutely enormous, and the decision ended up being a surprisingly difficult one. We got our sandwiches in the end though, and gleefully carried them to the picnic tables nearby, anticipating a feast.
The first thing that struck me was just how stuffed these sandwiches were. Sure, I had watched them cram layers of pork and bundles of pickled carrot into the roll, but the heft of them was still rather impressive. With that said though, my local also does a whopper of a sandwich, so it’ll take more than that to really impress me. So how did these stack up in terms of taste?
I’m a traditionalist, so of course I went with the classic Pork Roll ($6), minus the mayo, which I find overwhelms the flavour of the pâté. From the first bite, I was blow away with the quality of the bread. The roll, which seemed so solid at first, gave way to the soft centre with a flurry of crumbs, and a satisfying crunch. It avoided the common traps of being too tough or too chewy, and was instead the contrasting textural delight that I hope for every time I bite into a banh mi. As for the fillings, they were pretty much faultless. The pâté was smoothly umami, the pickles crisp and tangy, and the meats fresh and generous. Although I’m not sure if this is the best banh mi I’ve ever had, it’s certainly one of the best.
Chris on the other hand prefers warmer sandwich fillings, so he chose the Char Siu Pork Roll ($6), which was stuffed full of Chinese BBQ pork. Not being a mayo-phobe, he had his sandwich with the lot. I have to admit the extra creaminess, combined with the tangier style of soy sauce they use here, really complemented the tender slices of pork, elevating this sandwich to something rather special.
You know a banh mi (or really, any food) is good when you finish it and immediately crave more, and that’s exactly what happened here. Despite having had more than enough to eat, I was devastated when my sandwich came to an end. On the whole, I think I would say that this is probably the best banh mi I’ve ever had. My local is good enough for me not to really feel the need to go out of the way to King’s Hot Bread every time I want a banh mi, but given the choice, I would definitely pick this over any other.
Rating: 14/20 – king.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.