Au Petit Cafe
4851 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R9
The Vietnamese subs (Banh Mi) of my youth were all fairly consistent – crunchy, mouth sawing bread, nuoc cham, mystery meat, cilantro, pickled carrots, onion, cucumber, and hot peppers. And they were cheap. Dirt cheap.
Phase 2 came about with the Americanization of the Banh Mi – Sate Beef and Chicken, Curry Chicken, things like this. The extra sauce made the bread a little soggy, but made it less painful to put down. I liked the new flavors, but the original sub was still my favorite.
Then a trip to Vietnam redefined what a great Banh Mi could be. Great fresh bread, wonderfully flavoured house made meat, different sauces, pate, butter(!!), fresh veg. These deli sandwiches were so much better than what you could get on the street, which were, in turn, so much better than the Banh Mi of my youth.
Enter Au Petit Cafe – Vancouver’s best known Vietnamese Sub restaurant. Already extensively covered by other bloggers (like our friend’s at Chow Times, Vancouver Slop, and Sherman’s Food Adventures), I will try not to duplicate everything they’ve said. But as they’ve pointed out, the location is in a tiny space on Main.
They have some fairly sparse seating for inside – so most people get their Vietnamese subs to go. If there’s space, the owners always encourage you to stay. I suggest calling ahead – they are often sold out (they run out of bread).
They have a variety of Vietnamese dishes – Pho, Bun, etc… but I’d say 80% of people come here for the subs. Most people believe they are the best in the city. It’s hard for me to argue with that.
The bread is fresh but it’s a touch hard. It will saw at the mouth if you’re not careful. The most common order, sub #1, comes with house made ham, meat balls, and veg. The meat is actually a nice flavour – great porky taste that counter balances the heat of the peppers and the crunch of the bread. Veg are fresh. A complete bite covers the spectrum of flavours from spicy, to rich, to meaty, to fresh. Most subs are pretty affordable – especially for this day and age. $4.50 for the house special, $3.50 for the more regular orders.
These are not the best subs i’ve ever had. But they are very good subs. That are cheap. And tasty. And as we like to say around here, that’s all good.