Cool branding with on-trend typography, coupled with a modern interior drew us to Babanbè like moths to a hip, over-designed flame. Lots of natural light, space and birch-coloured wooden communal tables designed with Scandinavian simplicity equals a stylin’ place to catch up over over phở or banh mi.
The menu at Babanbè is concise with 3 types of phở (beef, chicken or veggie) and 7 bien mah options with 2 vego. Being an omnivore and vego, we ordered the classic beef (7.45 Euro) and the vegetable (6.45 Euro) respectively. All the staff were cool Berlin hipsters and distinctly non-Vietnamese, but on a desperate search for our fave elixir we chose to withhold judgement until after trying it.
Served in designer asymmetrical bowls, the soup looked good, in a modern, slightly non-traditional kind of way. We’re open to reinterpretations. The herbs and bean sprouts were served already in the soup – which is a bit of a no-no as it messes with the crunch – coriander was ample, but there was no mint in sight.
The beef stock was dark and didn’t have the usual light colour and clarity that we’re used to, and sadly lacked magic i.e. salt trying to compensate for lack of flavour. We all know that it takes the better part of a day to cook the stock, but this felt like it was boiling water with a Vegeta stock cube. The beef was thinly cut as it should be, but I suspect pre-cooked prior to being added to the soup making it a little tough making the whole experience unexceptional.
The veggie version wasn’t any better. It probably had the same brand of stock cube. With only dried porcini mushrooms and no other vegetables besides the sprouts in a salty watery broth, it left me distinctly unsatisfied.
Condiments were a necessity for both the soups. The chopped chilli in a fish sauce in jars on the table and fresh chilli and cut lime on offer didn’t quite take it to the next level, although they were fresh and the chilli was hot.
All in all, we wanted to love Babanbè, because it just looked so damn hip and modern – plus we hadn’t eaten phở in weeks – but the phở fell short on flavour. Perhaps they excel at the banh mi. They are called Babanbè: the banh mi deli, afterall.
- Stock: 2 – lack of flavour compensated with too much salt
- Inside: 3 – beef was pre-cooked, veggie option had had dried porcini mushrooms, served with bean sprouts and coriander inside the soup
- On the side: 4 – fresh chilli and lime
- Extras: 2 – noodles delivered, ambience was fantastic, lost out on the we’ll-be-back factor
Address:Oranienplatz 2, 10999 Berlin, Germany