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The Big Banh Mi: A taste of authentic Vietnamese in the city

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The Big Banh Mi

  • Owners: Eddie and Ethan Nguyen
  • Address: 1/122 Hunter Street, Newcastle
  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat 9am-4.30pm

What do a pharmacist, forklift driver and 1/122 Hunter Street have in common? They’ve all found a new lease on life.

Bringing a taste of authentic Vietnamese to the city, The Big Banh Mi’s arrival has already become a lunch-spot favourite among locals and East End workers.

Cousins Eddie and Ethan Nguyen say a love of food was the inspiration behind opening its doors.

The big banh mi

Eddie, a pharmacist by trade, moved to Newcastle three-and-a-half years ago and quickly noticed a lack of Vietnamese cuisine options.

“We’re both from Sydney, where there’s a big Vietnamese community,” he said.

“We would always go to our favourite Vietnamese restaurants.

“Then, we came up here and there was a little bit of a gap in the market.

“We were like ‘let’s try and bring some of that authentic Vietnamese cuisine up to Newcastle’.”

The big banh mi

Ethan, a forklift driver in Sydney, followed his cousin to the Hunter in 2022 right before Eddie approached him with the business concept.

“When he [Ethan] moved up, I was like ‘I have this idea’ and pitched it to him… ‘I think we can do quite a good job’,” he explained.

The duo was overwhelmed by the response at the grand opening earlier this month (Saturday 4 March).

The launch followed a run of sold-out stalls at the Newcastle Farmers Markets, which introduced people to The Big Banh Mi brand.

“We tested it on a couple of friends and family,” Eddie said.

“That’s how it kind of went off from there.

“Next, we went to the market, and received good feedback.

“We did that for about three months or so… we were selling out like every second week, so we’re like ‘you know, we could actually do this’.”

big banh mi

The Big Banh Mi serves six varieties, including Classic, BBQ and Crispy Pork, which has quickly become a crowd favourite.

A family recipe is behind the Lemongrass Chicken and Beef.

Lastly, there’s a vegetarian option, too.

For sides, spring rolls and panda waffles are on offer, and their noodle bowls will soon launch one-by-one.

“Our menu is a lot smaller. We want to focus on making a good quality product and specialise in the dishes that we do,” Eddie said.

“People love how it’s got that saltiness from the meat and gets cut through with the veggies, it balances out.

“Initially, we set ourselves to ease into it [business].

“It is our first business; we just want to iron out our processes and make sure we can deliver a good quality product.”

big banh mi

For morning commuters or office workers chasing an afternoon caffeine hit, the team specialises in Vietnamese iced coffee, which Eddie describes as “a rich dark coffee shot, in combination with ice and sweetened condensed milk”.

“We’re trying to cater to the younger audience,” he added.

“Office workers, young professionals… just have a nice, cool vibe, where you can chill out for lunch.”

The pair is thrilled they’ve already started to establish their “regulars”.

“Some people come in three times in a week,” Eddie said.

“They love the food, and they love the coffee.”

The Big Banh Mi is open Monday to Saturday at 1/122 Hunter Street, Newcastle.

  • Amber Sherwood

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