The Vietnamese dürüm!

There's a new meat-filled treat in town that has Nørrebrogade's kebab shop owners scratching their heads. It's a little bit French with a heavy dash of Asian and a whole lot of awesome! The 'Bánh Mì' is taking Copenhagen by storm – and it's here to stay.

The Vietnamese baguette might be the best unintended consequence of France’s colonial conquest in Asia. What’s not to like? It’s a crispy, crunchy and fluffy baguette, filled with your choice of marinated meat and topped off with fresh Vietnamese vegetables and a generous squirt of chilli sauce. The finest example is Frederiksberg’s District Tonkin, a vibrant café and interior design shop that has locals lining up seven days a week.

We spoke to District Tonkin co-owner Nickie Mydung Nguyen, to glean a little insight into this instant Vietnamese classic.

The Murmur: So what exactly is in a Bánh Mì?

Nickie Mydung Nguyen: We sell four different types of Bánh Mìs: barbecued pork, traditional Vietnamese sausage and barbecued pork, grilled beef with sesame and honey and lastly steamed tofu. They all come with leeks, spring onions, cucumber, coriander, chili and our homemade sauces. Some also have pickled vegetables and red onion oil.

District Tonkin co-owner Nickie Mydung Nguyen. Photo: Christoffer Rosenfeldt

TM: What is the most vital ingredient or component of the perfect Bánh Mì?

NMN: Crispy and moist bread, perfect sauce, fresh vegetables and well-marinated meat.

TM: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to open District Tonkin?

NMN: I was born in a refugee camp in Singapore, and my family arrived in Denmark as refugees in 1981. But the first time I went to Vietnam was when I was 23 to work as a trainee account manager for a Danish furniture company. It was a big shock when I arrived, but it was so amazing to taste all the Vietnamese flavours for the first time.

I was working in Ho Chi Minh City, but I craved the creative world in Hanoi and travelled there often to find new galleries and artists, to see the architecture and streets and also, of course, to eat the food. My love for Hanoi grew so great that I promised myself that one day I would open a small boutique and serve my favourite food and give back a little bit of Hanoi. I had always worked in sales and marketing, specialising in concepts, so we opened this concept store in October 2013.

Photo: Christoffer Rosenfeldt

TM: Why are Danes lining up night and day for these sandwiches?

NMN: I am not sure, but I hope that they can taste the passion I have for the Bánh Mì! I do not compromise on the flavours and I serve them as I would eat them if I were in Vietnam. The Bánh Mì is here to stay!

TM: Do you plan on expanding, or are you satisfied with remaining a popular, local hotspot? What is the future for District Tonkin?

NMN: We actually just expanded with a new shop on Dronningens Tværgade in central Copenhagen. The new shop is more focussed on simple Northern Vietnamese street food, while the concept store remains a boutique and café. But you can still get our four Bánh Mìs in both places! M

District Tonkin – Concept Store

Gammel Kongevej 152A , 1850 Frederiksberg C

District Tonkin – Bánh Mì

Dronningens Tværgade 12 , 1302 København K

Can’t get enough Banh Mi? Try these other spots.

Bánh Mì

Elmegade 20, 2200 København N

Nha Trang

Jesper Brochmands Gade 11, 2200  København N


By Carl Coleman

AN Australian sexual refugee living in Copenhagen for the past six years. Carl plays in Palace Winter.

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