How to make Bánh mì
Chef Dan Hong's step-by-step method to create the popular Vietnamese street food snack Bánh mì
It is clear to us that Sydney has lifted its game on what can be done between a couple of slices of bread. In compiling this list, we ventured far afield, testing jaffles in Strathfield and bacon and egg rolls in Blacktown. We lined up for BLTs in Collaroy and cut into something with "the lot" in Palm Beach. There were baguettes in Bankstown, and focaccias, paninis and baps in Dee Why. Cutting it down, only one example of each sandwich was included. This is our pick of the best sandwiches in our city right now.
Chicken katsu baguette, $10
Lucky Pickle, 509-511 Crown Street, Surry Hills, entrance via High Holborn Street
Lucky Pickle may be the hippest kid on the Sydney sambo scene. Hard-to-find laneway entrance and no listed number? Check. Super-cute staff in brightly coloured aprons? Check. Copies of food-nerd magazines Lucky Peach and Fool lying around? You betcha.
Katsu is the new schnitzel, and here the juicy white chicken is doused in sesame seeds, mayo and an umami-rich tonkatsu sauce while partying between slabs of golden-crusted baguette.
Bacon and manchego ciabatta, $13
Brickfields, 206 Cleveland Street, Chippendale, 02 9698 7880
Brickfields, that high-ceilinged corner post with one pretty blue-and-white tiled wall and killer Mecca coffee, has a queue out the door most weekends. A house-made ciabatta (sometimes it's chewy soy and linseed sourdough) filled with crisp bacon, generous flags of manchego cheese, shredded kale, slices of pickle and proper garlic mayo is the menu's most regular item ("we will never take it off"). It's one heck of a sandwich.
Steak sandwich, $17
Sideways Deli Cafe, 37 Constitution Road, Dulwich Hill, 02 9560 1425
This favourite spot for mums with prams turns out peerless steak sandwiches best tackled with two hands and a lap full of serviettes. A thick-cut char-grilled sirloin steak is matched with tomato slices, house-made beetroot jam and garlic aioli. It's happy layers of sweet and messy in toasted Turkish bread.
The Reuben, $16
Ruby & Rach, David Jones Foodhall, lower ground floor, Westfield Bondi Junction & other locations, 0405 331 920, facebook.com/rubyandrach
The Ruby & Rach wagyu corned-beef sandwiches, filled with generous slices of tender meat, a tumble of sauerkraut, a few melting slices of Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, and a couple of pickles on light rye toast, has been one of the best things about Bondi farmers' markets for ages. Ruby & Rach has now set up at David Jones Foodhall in Westfield Bondi Junction, so the perfect Reuben is on call for shoppers every day.
Banh mi, $4.50
Marrickville Pork Roll, 236a Illawarra Road, Marrickville, 0420 966 368
This Vietnamese eatery's pork roll has Sydney enthralled. House-made pate on a crunchy French bun is the foundation, and inside is a tangle of barbecued pork chunks, pickled carrot, a stick of cucumber, mayonnaise and slivers of cold pork, with a good kick of fresh chilli. There's a queue of uni students, mothers with prams, and office workers making the lunchtime commute to this favourite with the red awning.
Oyster po'boy, $18 for two
Hartsyard, 33 Enmore Road, Newtown, 02 8068 1473
Short of actually going to New Orleans and pulling up to one of those little roadside shacks, this delightful pair of three-bite rolls are the best po'boys out there. The battered and crisply deep-fried Tasmanian Pacific oysters are a juicy, crunchy match for the creamy twigs of Old Bay mayonnaise-doused shredded cabbage and carrot. But it's those tiny, chewy house-made English muffins, with their slightly crisp exterior, that makes these a hit.
Charcoal chicken and garlic sauce roll, $7.50
El Jannah, 4-6 South Street, Granville, 02 9637 0977
This charcoal chicken has an obligatory accompaniment, the Lebanese garlic sauce toum. The charcoal-blackened chook comes with colourful pickles and a round of Lebanese bread. Jostle with locals for a table, order a side of hot chips, and wrap the lot into a steaming, garlicky sandwich.
Smoked salmon bagel, $12
Brooklyn Hide, 226 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, 02 9211 6448
New York bagels, without the jetlag. These numbers are fresh and light, with that essential chewiness that makes a bagel more than a bread roll with a hole. The Brooklyn Hide bagel is topped with braised pork, cucumber and apple jam for a measly (for the quality) $10. The regular special bagel, with not-too-thin house-cured salmon lox, is a classic concoction of cream cheese and rocket, a trio of caperberries on the side.
The jaffle, $8
Belgrave Cartel, 6 Belgrave Street, Manly, 02 9976 6548
Molten-hot fillings inside a crisp exterior - that's the requisite characteristic of a good Australian jaffle. The green eggs and ham jaffle at this cool Manly outpost fits the mould, and when cut open, a runny yolk and herby pesto spills out on to the plate. Less virtuous health-wise, but equally pleasing, is the Benno: eggs benedict (ham, runny egg and house-made hollandaise) in a tidy casing.
BLT with extras, $12
The Shop & Wine Bar, 78 Curlewis Street, Bondi, 02 9365 2600
"One BLT please. Heavy on the B," says my companion at the Shop & Wine Bar. But he needn't have. Two slices of thick-cut soft white or brown bread comes filled with bacon, cut super-thin and done super-crisp, with mixed greens, a couple of slices of cheese, the obligatory tomato slice and a few tart slices of gherkin with a satisfying crunch. It's a generous, perfect sandwich.
South American arepas, $8.90
La Latina, Various locations: Chatswood Markets, Orange Grove Markets, Lilyfield; facebook.com/LaLatina2012
A grilled-to-order hot cornbread pocket is filled with mozzarella, guacamole, a tart coriander, shallot, lemon-juice salsa, shredded pork and sour cream. Despite the heart-stopping ingredients, it's a light and fresh, with a crisp corn exterior. On a healthy note, it's gluten-free. There are vegetarian, black bean and chicken renditions of this Colombian classic.
Suckling pig roll with crackling, $12
Wilbur's Place, 36 Llankelly Place, Potts Point, 02 9332 2999
Bourke Street Bakery's Paul Allam and David McGuinness were inspired by the porchetta vendors of Italy when they dreamed up Wilbur's Place. The smart pocket-sized shop on the desleazed Llankelly Place, at the still-a-bit-sleazy Kings Cross end of Potts Point, does a roasted saddle of pork from 11am on Saturdays. The sandwich is topped with mustard pickles, dill sauce and, importantly, crackling. It's crunchy and tender and meaty.
Vegetarian wrap, $11
Cornersmith, 314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville, 02 8065 0844, facebook.com/cornersmith
House-made relishes and pickles grace the plates at Marrickville's Cornersmith. The corner cafe leads Sydney's obsession with rekindling the old culinary arts. Sandwiches here are seasonal, but we caught the carrot and cabbage slaw with sprouts, kimchi, aioli and pickle in an open wrap. This vegetarian sandwich could woo a hardened carnivore. Those from the dark side can have the optional addition of slow-braised lamb ($16), ethically sourced from Feather & Bone.
DIY sandwich, $15-$16
Bread and Circus, 21 Fountain Street, Alexandria, 02 9698 2939, breadandcircus.com.au
No threatening soggy sambos in this lot. Wholefoods canteen Bread and Circus does sandwich boxes made for hurried commuters and picnic days. The biodegradable boxes come brimming with sandwich things, and fresh-cut slices of sourdough for DIY sandwich-making.
In summer it's hard to go past the Meredith goat's cheese with basil, oil, avocado and tomato. The preservative-free, free-range smoked ham with dijon and pickle is pretty great year-round.
Blood-sausage sandwich, $6
Ester, 46-52 Meagher Street, Chippendale, 02 8068 8279, ester-restaurant.com.au
Ester jostled into Sydney rather suddenly and has already staked a claim as one of the best restaurants in town.
The extraordinary starter sandwich is a sweet and salty one-handed treat. It comes as a tidy open slice of steamed bread topped with a black blood sausagette. There's caramelised onion and mustard aioli on top. The thing is a bleeding masterpiece.
Chicken katsu sandwich, $14
Momofuku Seibo, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, 02 9777 9000
You don't need a booking to eat from Momofuku's bar menu, where Dave Chang's famous pork buns also feature. A star on the short menu is the thick slices of puffy white bread filled with a single slab of crunchy chicken katsu.
Chef Ben Greeno has orchestrated meat so tender you'd swear it was slow-cooked, coated in noisy breadcrumbs. It's all about the texture. Order pickles on the side, and a negroni while you're at it.
Rare roast beef sandwich, $7.50
Arras Too, 204 Clarence Street Sydney, 02 9283 4268
The phonebox-sized attachment to the hatted Restaurant Arras bakes excellent loaves of organic sourdough for CBD office-workers. Some of this sourdough is then turned into changing-daily sandwiches to satiate lunchtime hunger. Porchetta with artichoke and eggplant, maybe, or a big blokey sanger of roast beef, brie, tomato and caramelised onion.
Grilled albacore tuna panini, $13
Lox Stock and Barrel, 140 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi, 02 9300 0368
Hit this beachside bakery for house-made sourdough panini filled with a slab of albacore tuna loin, miso-dressed red and white slaw, and jalapenos. The chargrilled-to-order fish has a light spice crust exterior, while the centre is a perfect medium-rare, and the jalapenos have been lightly pickled in apple cider vinegar.
Correction: The original version of this story listed the Reuben from Ruby & Rach as being for sale at Strattons Hotel in the city. The correct retailer is David Jones Foodhall in Westfield Bondi Junction. This has been amended in the text.