They make their own Banh Mi, and supply breads to other Vietnamese restaurants. Surely this is good enough reason to pay Co Hai Banh Mi at Beach Road (near Bugis) a visit.
Before you get a little confused, they actually run two shops along the same stretch – Co Hai Banh Mi at Unit 359 of Beach Road, and Pho Co Hai at Unit 349.
Both shops have slightly varied offerings, but signatures remain the same.
Lady boss and chef Nguyen Thi Hanh used to run Vietnam Food Hanh Delights (Telok Blangah) and Pho Hanh Delights (Joo Chiat).
I remember writing about Pho Hanh Delights, and described the Pho had “stock which was light yet full-flavoured, reasonably priced and included with generous portions of beef slices, brisket and balls.”
The restaurants run by Vietnamese staff, may not catch your attention from the front until you step inside.
Apart from that visual testament to their food, you would see Vietnamese art crafts on the pastel blue walls along the stairs of the two-story eatery.
One’s in green, and the other’s is in blue. Blue means growth in Vietnamese culture.
With the Vietnamese chatter, colour of the wall, mish-mash décor, along with sale of Vietnamese snacks, noodles and coffee at various corners of the shop, you do get the Saigon feel. Missing the music.
The Vietnamese joint is best known for the delicious Banh Mi with choices like their signature Co Hai Baguette ($10) with mixed ham, roasted pork, pate and pork floss.
Other interesting options are Stir-fried Beef & Cheese Baguette ($10), Stir-fried Beef & Onion Baguette ($9), Roasted Pork & Pate Baguette ($10), Roasted Chicken, Pate & Mayonnaise ($9.50), Stir Egg with Cheese Baguette ($8), to a Mix Vegetable Baguette ($9) with sliced avocadoes and tofu.
Go for their signature item, Co Hai Baguette costs ($10). When you peel open the bread, expect to find a scrumptious mix of Chinese sausage, roasted BBQ pork, pork floss, pate, amidst the vegetables.
While it could be a $1 or $2 pricier than in the past, their Banh Mi was filling and considered substantial as they layer with different ingredients.
Each bite was a surprising sensation of salty, sweet, and sour. The different components packed in the sandwich also contribute to the juiciness. You can add in cut red chilli or Tuong Ot hot sauce found on the table for more of a kick.
The baguette was slightly toasted, while the crunch was made tender with homemade butter, savoury ham and pâté and pickled vegetable slaw. The recipe was slightly changed to fit Singaporeans’ palette.
During another visit, I had the Stir-fried Beef & Cheese Baguette ($10) which reminded me of what a marriage between Banh Mi and Cheeseburger would be like.
It was not bad, with melty, moist, sweet-savoury fillings, covered with toasted baguette. But I may just stick to the original if it is my first time and wanted to something more authentic.
Their Pho options include Sliced Beef Noodle Soup ($9), Special Noodle Soup ($10). You can add beef slices, brisket, tendon, and beef balls for only two dollars more.
Other than the typical Pho, there are Vegetarian Noodle Soup ($9.50), Spicy Beef Noodle Soup ($10), Beef Stew Noodle Soup ($12), Minced Pork Balls Noodle Soup ($10), Chicken Glass Noodle Soup ($10).
They served the Pho with the usual sides of bean sprouts – raw and crunchy, steeped till soft, along with Thai basil, sliced chilli, and lime for a more authentic dining experience.
I enjoyed that the rice noodles were silky, matched with generous slices of beef that was hidden belong all the greens.
The soup was light, flavourful and not overly salty – the type you may just finish to the last drop.
Accordingly, the broth was brewed for up to 12 hours with Chinese herbs and lightly sweetened with sugarcane (instead of the usual sugar). No added MSG too.
Not just Banh Mi and Pho, they offer Vietnamese-style street food and dishes.
These include Scallop BBQ with Spring Onions ($12), Rice with Stir-Fried Beef, Vermicelli with BBQ Chicken and Fried Spring Rolls ($9.50), Mixed Sticky Rice with Kampong Chicken ($13), to Vietnamese-style Crepe ($12) with shoot, beansprouts and green bean.
For that slant of home-cooked goodness and authenticity.
Co Hai Banh Mi
359 Beach Road Singapore 199575,
Tel: +65 6291 6435
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)