Bread comes in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. There’s traditional loaves, burger buns, baguettes and of course, bánh mì.
Black bánh mì with beef and cheese. — VNS Photo Ly Ly Cao.
But although white and different shades of brown are the usual colours, one bakery is breaking the mould.
If you visit Quảng Ninh Province and sample a sandwich you may well be in for a surprise. Here you will find the unique black bánh mì.
The history of this particular sandwich comes from the industry the region is built on.
Quảng Ninh is a mining province, so the owner of one particular store decided to incorporate that into his recipes.
Nguyễn Văn Quyết, a co-founder of BAMIMO, said: “The idea is from a story of Trần Khắc Tuấn, another co-founder of BAMIMO. He felt nostalgia for baguettes serving workers in coal mines.
“In the past, the baguettes were specially made for the miners’ meals. His father and other relatives brought the baguettes home for him.
“So he thought why not elevate the baguettes and sell them.”
But before you worry about how the black bread is made, don’t. There isn’t any coal dust used in the dough. Instead, the blackness comes from cuttlefish.
“The ingredient that makes the black colour for the baguette is mainly from ink sacs,” Quyết added.
“I go to the market and purchase ink sacs from fresh cuttlefish. When the cuttlefish are still fresh then the colour will be nice and pure black. It also doesn’t have a fishy smell.”
Normally with a bánh mì, the ingredients tend to stay the same. Pate, egg, pork and lettuce.
But that’s not all you will find at BAMIMO.
Here to match the cuttlefish ink used for colouring, seafood fillings are the order of the day such as crab and squid cakes.
It also comes with a combination of beef and cheese.
Customers can order online to get a taste of this bánh mì, but many prefer to come in person to experience it at the store.
Đoàn Phương Anh, 20, said: “I live in Cẩm Phả, 30 minutes away from here. After work one day, my brother brought these bánh mì home for my mother and me.
“I was impressed with the appearance of the bánh mì which is totally black. So today, my close friend and I came here to try other flavours.
“I like the cheese ground beefcake the most, it is really fragrant and rich with pepper flavour.
“I am also curious about what ingredient can make the bánh mì this black and wonder if it has any special flavour compare to normal bánh mì.”
Customers wait in line for a taste of the black bánh mì in Quảng Ninh. — VNS Photo Ly Ly Cao
Widely welcomed by local and nearby residents, the founders expect to open more new stalls and hope the black bánh mì can become a signature dish of Quảng Ninh.
“We hope it can soon be local food, a Quảng Ninh speciality. When people go to Quảng Ninh, they will think about black bánh mì, about BAMIMO,” Quyết said.
It may be black in colour, but there is nothing dull about this sandwich.