Lamhan Banh Mi
Lamhan Banh Mi offers Vietnamese-style sandwiches and other types of street food that you can find being sold at street corners in Vietnam.
Traditionally, Banh Mi sandwiches are made using cold cut meats, at Lamhan, they combine this with a modern-day method of adding grilled toppings into the sandwiches.
Owners Ken Trinh and his wife Maggie Tran were inspired to open up this Vietnamese food spot, when Trinh noticed how talented his wife was at cooking traditional dishes.
In 2019, Trinh was working as a bank consultant and his wife went on maternity leave as she was pregnant with their second child. They felt it was the perfect time to leave their industries and start a business in the food world.
Aside from delays with lockdowns in 2020, they opened up shop in August 2021, naming the restaurant after both their children, Lam meaning forest in Vietnamese, and Han, meaning happy.
The restaurant itself is a pretty small space, but it won't hinder your experience eating here, as majority of people opt for takeout.
If you're planning a day at Christie Pits, I could see Lamhan as being the perfect spot to stop by and grab something fast and easy to eat, the business sits directly across from the park, at the Bloor and Christie intersection.
Walking into Lamhan, you'll find a fridge on the right full of Vietnamese street foods, a popular option is the slices of Vietnamese Head Cheese. It's actually a cold-cut meat, made from pork and sells as a type of fast-food on street corners in Vietnam.
Other street food options at the fridge include canned bubble tea, and Vietnamese beef jerky – very similar to the North American version, but a dry rub is used to coat the meat instead of a wet marinade.
What sets Lamhan a part from other Vietnamese sandwich spots in the area, like Komi Banh Mi, is the bread. It's homemade, baked in-house every morning and then placed inside of a bread warmer all day, to keep them soft and fresh.
The Lemongrass Grilled Chicken Banh Mi ($7.50) has a delicious pairing between crisp vegetable toppings and flavourful sauces. Pickled carrot, cucumber and bits of coriander form a slaw when combined with Viet mayonnaise (more like a butter consistency, than the regular) and your choice of BBQ or Black pepper sauce.
The Beef Jerky Papaya Salad ($8.49) has a base of shredded green papaya, that replaces the lettuce portion you would find in a regular salad. It's then sprinked with Vietnamese Beef Jerky, peanuts, and basil leaves. For extra flavour, deep fried shallot, garlic and black pepper are added into the mix.
For dressing, Beef hot sauce is poured on top of the salad, this is made from the oil and seasonings used to cook beef at the restaurant.
The Deluxe Banh Mi ($7.99) is most similar to a traditional Vietnamese cold cut sandwich. Pate, a mashed mix of chicken and pork liver is spread onto the base of the bread. Then comes the six different deli meats, including Viet head cheese, beef roll, pork roll, ham and roasted red pork, otherwise known as Xa Xiu.
Pickled carrots, cucumber, coriander, and Viet mayonnaise completes the sandwich for toppings. A bit of their housemade gravy sauce is drizzled on as well, although it's hard to taste, among the layers of hearty meat.
Although sweet, the Tamarind Jasmine Iced Tea (regular $3.99, large $4.99) is super refreshing, and satisfying in terms of quenching your thirst. Lamhan mixes tamarind juice, with jasmine tea and the right amount of sugar syrup to make this delicious summer-like drink.
If you're looking for a dessert-like treat after your meal, but don't feel like eating any more, the Thai Green Milk ($3.99 regular, $4.99 large), will do the trick. The creamy consistency reminds me of a matcha drink, minus the bitterness. A powdered green tea mix is combined with sugar syrup and water.
Ironically enough, Lamhan's storefront sits right beside a competitor, another sandwich shop, Subway. Although, I don't think Lamhan has much to worry about in terms of competition, you don't see many people walking into Subway, most on the street will stop to take a look at the pictures of the Banh Mi sandwiches in the front window.