Popular for their interpretations of Vietnamese flavors in their bowls of phở and other unfussy but comforting dishes, Bà Nội's recently gave its Kapitolyo branch an overhaul by transforming it into a cafe to highlight their line of Vietnamese coffee, short orders, and a solid lineup of the popular Vietnamese sandwich -- bánh mì. Perusing the menu of the new Bà Nội's Càphê will not only delight fans of Vietnamese coffee and banh mi for their many flavors available; they'll stay longer or come back more often, as many of their dishes, from appetizers, banh mi, rice meals, down to desserts, will fit a 200 Peso budget.
Bà Nội's Càphê
The folks of Bà Nội's Càphê are mighty proud of their new selection of bánh mì -- currently five flavors strong, and according to Bà Nội's President Dodjie Violago, another flavor will be introduced soon. To keep the consistency and quality of their sandwiches at top-notch, the second level of the càphê is dedicated to their baguettes, where they bake them fresh every day. These breads have also found themselves in other establishments, as Bà Nội's supplies to several restaurants in the metro. If pizza gourmands judge their pies by the crust, banh mi lovers are particular about the bread used. The Baguette can be ordered at the cafe Plain (P30) or slathered with Garlic Butter (P40) (a customer favorite) for you to experience the bread itself first before having it with all the meaty and flavorful trimmings as a sandwich.
Just upon slicing myself a piece, I hear the crackle of the bread giving way to the knife, its crust flaking away and leaving a tiny mess, and then it smoothly cuts away to a softer bread body in the middle. Freshly baked bread already wins me over (one of my favorite food scents), and a bite of their crusty baguette is just as winning that I already become more eager to try them as banh mi. Due to their popularity, the baguettes at Bà Nội's Càphê can be ordered individually for dine-in customers, while baguettes for pick-up available by half-dozen orders (by batches of six), and need to be ordered a day in advance. Don't forget to freeze the bread the soonest once you claim your order so it will keep better!
The basic trimmings of all the banh mis at the cafe is a baguette with a good smear of liver pate, soy-chili sauce, white onions, pickled vegetables, sriracha (just a touch, it is not spicy), and cilantro; the protein and additional sauces and veggies vary from flavor to flavor. Every order also comes with a siding of crispy shrimp crackers -- it's already a filling meal as it is, or split a sandwich and pair with coffee for a lighter afternoon snack. Among the sandwiches, most popular is the Bánh mì xa xiu (Char Siu Pork, P170) the flavor with the sweetest profile among the five (Filipinos do love sweet), stuffed with char siu pork, cucumber, and mayo. Another pork sandwich is available, Bánh mì suon heo (Pork Riblets, P180), which seems heftier to my palate because the pork riblets seem chunkier in the sandwich. This banh mi also has peanut sauce and cucumber.
Bánh mì xa xiu / Char Siu Pork
Bánh mì suon heo / Pork Riblets
The other three flavors also prove that a bready order can be your main course are Bánh mì than Bo (Beef Tenderloin, P220), Bánh mì Ga nuong (Chicken Barbecue, P160), and Bánh mì Dau hu xa ot (Lemongrass Tofu, P140). The beef tenderloin sandwich is a favorite, as the meat itself was well seasoned and the sweet basil gave it some freshness, while the chicken barbecue was a lighter option. What surprised us over lunch was the tofu banh mi -- it was the most affordable, and practically meatless option (save for the liver pate of course), but each bite into it was so refreshing and savory, with cucumber slices and peanut sauce. The lemongrass also does wonders in rounding up the flavors.
Bánh mì than Bo / Beef Tenderloin
Bánh mì Ga nuong / Chicken Barbecue
Bánh mì Dau hu xa ot / Lemongrass Tofu
If banh mi doesn't make your heart flutter, there's always good old rice meals (it's okay, go have rice, it's part of our Filipino DNA anyway). Also fitting the P200 budget is ther All Day Breakfast lineup that comes with Vietnamese fried rice and egg (this menu is also available at the Katipunan branch of Ba Noi's). The three breakfast dishes showcase the best selling meaty orders of Ba Noi's, made more affordable in single servings for quick but filling eats.
Bo Luc Lac
The Bo Luc Lac (Stir Fried Beef - P190) is their best seller; also available are Suong Nuong Xa (Pork Riblets - P140) and Ga Nuong (Grilled Chicken in Lemongrass Sauce - P130). To make your Vietnamese breakfast even more filling, add ons like Fried Spring Rolls (P45/2 pieces) and extra Egg (P30/Sunny side up or Scrambled) are available.
Suong Nuong Xa
A visit to a Vietnamese cafe should not be without coffee, of course. And here at Bà Nội's Càphê, there are a lot to choose from. Their Vietnamese Coffee come in three blends: Specialty, Breakfast, and Afternoon. You can enjoy these different blends in the cafe per cup (P120/Cup, 250 grams) and to bring home (P450/Pack Ground Coffee Beans). They also have Trung Nguyen Ba Noi's Original Blend (P110) served Hot or Iced; and as this prolonged sweltering conditions we now have in Manila dictate, we all have our Vietnamese coffee over ice. It's appropriately sweet with that much needed kick of caffeine to keep you onward with the rest of the day. Should you prefer an icy beverage for dessert to beat the heat, Blended drinks (P150) come in flavors of Caramel, Mocha, and White Mocha for sweet and cool sips topped with whipped cream and syrup.
To pair with our cà phê, we are served three Desserts (all at P135 per order). We start the servings of sweetness with a bowl of Che Khoai Cau, which is a combination of sweet taro and sticky rice that has been cooked in sweetened coconut milk, then topped with toasted peanuts and sesame seeds. It reminds me of our local hot dessert, ginataang bilo-bilo, and is just as comforting, chewy, and sweet. The Banh Da Lon is two pandan cakes served warm which are filled with mung bean, then topped with coconut cream and toasted sesame -- it's another pleasant dessert for my sweet tooth, as I already have a deep love for coconut milk. If you do, however, want to finish with bolder rather than mild flavors, go for gold with the Ca Phe Lava Cookie Cake. It's a soft baked cooke injected with a luscious warm chocolate and Vietnamese coffee filling, served a la mode and drizzled with caramel. In a good spoonful, you get chocolate, sugar, warm and cold, and a spin of coffee.
Che Khoai Cau (P135)
Banh Da Lon (P135)
Ca Phe Lava Cookie Cake (P135)
Bà Nội's Càphê is located at 12 East Kapitolyo Drive, Barangay Kapitolyo (right next to Charlie's). Call 477-9761 for inquiries and to order your baguettes in advance. Like Ba Noi's on Facebook (/BaNois) and follow on Instagram (@banoiscaphe).