What’s on the takeout menu at Banh Haus, Chinatown’s new spot for banh mi, vermicelli bowls and Vietnamese iced coffee

What’s on the takeout menu at Banh Haus, Chinatown’s new spot for banh mi, vermicelli bowls and Vietnamese iced coffee

More New Restaurants

Name: Banh Haus
Contact: Lower level of 81 Huron St., banhhaus.life, @banhhaus.life
Neighbourhood: Chinatown
Owners: Lily, Ryan and Steven Dinh
Chef: Ryan Dinh
Seating: Takeout only for now
Accessibility: Flight of stairs down to lower-level entrance

The food

A creative, highly customizable menu of Vietnamese specialties with fresh, zingy flavours and a subtle focus on good nutrition. (This is not obvious “health food” by any means, but co-owner Steven Dinh says thoughtful portioning played a part in menu design). It’s run by the Dinh family, Lily and her sons Steven and Ryan. Ask what’s in a dish and more often than not, you’ll get a classic family business response: “mom’s secret recipe.”

A large portion of the menu is choose-your-own-adventure style. You get to pick a protein—like sweet pork sausage, curry tofu, or fried chicken—to go with your base of choice: rice, vermicelli, banh mi, or banh tieu. The latter is a fluffy Vietnamese doughnut typically served with condensed milk. Its use as a sandwich base is far from traditional, but it works—its light sweetness compliments the proteins. If you’re not in a decisive mood, one of several pre-designed house (or “haus,” as it’s spelled here) favourites should fit the bill. The original banh mi with pate, pork belly, and soy-based Vietnamese sausage is a solid place to start.

Here we have the original banh mi—a reliable favourite on a classic crusty baguette. Cold cut–style pork belly, chicken liver pâté (you can sub in avocado if that’s more your thing), and soy-based Vietnamese sausage are finished with pickled carrots and daikon (“haus pickles”), cucumbers, cilantro, aïoli and special sauce. $9 ($2 extra for the fried egg).

 

Here’s the finished product.

 

Creamy, coconut-based yellow curry sauce is poured over tender cubes of fried tofu. It’s the protein choice for this vermicelli bowl, each of which comes with thin rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, green leaf lettuce and a mix of spearmint and perilla. $14.

 

Pan-seared tiger shrimp in “mom’s secret marinade” are among the protein options for rice dishes and vermicelli bowls. These babies are destined to be paired with betel leaf–wrapped beef for the surf-and-turf rice dish.

 

Every rice dish comes with pho broth, a green salad, chili sauce, pickled daikon and carrots and a very special condiment: Banh Haus’s proprietary fish sauce concoction, also sold by the jar. Pictured here is the surf-and-turf option that includes pan-seared tiger shrimp and sliced beef wrapped in betel leaves—a spin on the traditional version, which is typically made with ground beef. A note on the peanuts: if you’re allergic to them, you can request to nix ‘em and rest easy. This place takes cross-contamination seriously: the chef is allergic to peanuts. $16.
You’re unlikely to find this take on a fried chicken sandwich elsewhere in the city: subbing in for your standard bread is banh tieu, a lightly sweet Vietnamese doughnut that’s traditionally served with condensed milk. The chicken itself is coated in banh xeo, or Vietnamese pancake batter, yielding a light, crispy skin with a tiny hint of sweetness that complements the banh tieu. It’s topped with haus-pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, cilantro, aïoli and special sauce. $11.

 

Fried chicken in a banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) batter on pillowy clouds of concentrated happiness (otherwise known as bao). Finished with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, special sauce, aïoli and cilantro. $11.

 

Here we have an assortment of haus-made pantry goods. Left to right: locally roasted Vietnamese coffee beans ($16), fish sauce ($8), haus pickle (carrots and daikon, $12), and haus pickled mustard greens ($11).

 

Their fish sauce is significantly less salty and concentrated than your standard variety—if the latter is an umami powerhouse to be used with reverence and restraint, this is a delightful, easy-breezy version suitable for dipping or liberally pouring over your food. $8.

 

Co-owner Steven Dinh.
The drinks

There’s a range of espresso-based beverages, the standout of which is silky smooth Vietnamese iced coffee, made with condensed milk and locally roasted Vietnamese beans. Smoothies and sparkling juice are also on offer, and in a wide variety of flavours; for the sparkling juice, you also get to pick between green, black, or oolong tea as a base.

Sparkling juice is available in nine fruit flavours and with three possible tea bases: green, black and oolong. This is the mango green tea, complete with a cute branded sticker. $6.

 

Locally roasted Vietnamese coffee beans make up the espresso base, which is mixed with condensed milk in a cocktail shaker for a smooth, airy texture. Topped off with ice. $5.
The space

An outdoor barbecue doubles as a prudent ventilation strategy and a siren song of BBQ aromas to entice passersby; helpful, since the restaurant is tucked away on the lower level. The tight, takeout-only space is brightened by a mural of anime characters—Sailor Moon, Hamtaro and friends are pictured sharing food around a table, meant to reflect the convivial tradition of Vietnamese eating. When the weather warms up, Banh Haus will open a small number of outdoor seats.

Steven again, this time in front of the lower-level entrance to Banh Haus.