The international hit sandwich banh mi is steadily conquering the Filipino gastronomy scene. This is can be seen through the banh mi stalls that are sprawling up in the Metro and in nearby provinces. Marilao, Bulacan, known for its attractive cuisine and old-century churches, has also kept up with this food trend.
If you pass by Petron Km 23 on your way north via NLEX, it is quite easy to spot this authentic Vietnamese restaurant among the throngs of fast food and tea shops with its prominent green and white signage that says ‘Banh Mi Ngon’. Mind you, it lives up to its name by providing delicious banh mi.
For one, its baguettes are freshly baked by its Filipino-Vietnamese owner Nilo, who migrated from Vietnam to the Philippines in the 70s. What piqued my curiosity was the crunchy yet soft bread that makes it effortless to munch on along with its meat and veggies.
Mr. Nilo gladly gave us a peek of his kitchen where he demonstrated how he skillfully prepares and kneads the dough while attending to orders and checking on the slow cooker chicken broth. The owner’s familiarity with his native food and sharp sense of smell have served useful for him to learn the art of making banh mi from scratch. The result is a truly authentic Vietnamese sandwich.
Their best seller is the cheese steak with its juicy and oozy steak bites covered with melted cheese and classic chunks of vegetables topped with coriander.
There are also classic varieties filled with chicken, pork and beef, as well as herbs and greens. Talk about freshness, authenticity and health! All of these qualities offer the best Vietnamese flavor without traveling to Vietnam.
Before banh mi, though, there was pho.
At Banh Mi Ngon, try their signature Lemongrass pho with thick rice noodles, herbs and meat. Lemongrass soup is best-loved by the locals in the part of Vietnam where Nilo’s family is from. An order is already good enough for three people (or even more). If you want an extra kick, just add some chili sauce.
Another personal favorite is the summer rolls. This is best eaten by placing a roll on one leaf, rolling it, and then dipping it into some vinegar sauce. It is available in shrimp/pork and pork stuffing.
The other type of roll is the crisp, garden-fresh spring rolls. The tangy flavor goes well with the sweet peanut sauce that comes with it. It has chicken, shrimp and beef variations.
A must-try for the health enthusiasts is the shrimp and chicken salad. This flavorful dish can be enjoyed by putting everything in a cracker.
At Banh Mi Ngon, you can pair your banh mi with a cup of Trung Nguyen coffee, Vietnam’s number one coffee. If you haven’t tried Vietnamese coffee yet, this is your chance. To quench your thirst, opt for one of their cool drinks instead, such as the guyabano. You can really taste its natural guyabano flavor!
Banh Mi Ngon literally translates to ‘delicious banh mi’, and it stays true to its name. Established just two years ago as an alternative healthy option at Petron Km 23, they will open a new countertop-style branch in SM Marilao soon. This family-run business also has a branch in Pampanga.
So, the next time you visit Marilao; don’t forget to feed your soul with healthy food like the authentic Vietnamese cuisine at Banh Mi Ngon, as well.
Banh Mi Ngon
NLEX Marilao KM23, Marilao, Bulacan