Last month when I was in Melbourne to set up my apartment, on one of my city outings I happened to walk past a shop named Ba’get. I’m not 100% sure why it caught my eye, maybe it was because my sister had recently travelled to Vietnam, but I put it on my radar for a future visit and a couple of days later by chance I came across an advertisement for a cooking class they were running. Having eaten there in the meantime, you didn’t have to ask me twice to sign up.
So first up – báhn mi is what Ba’get are well known for. And what is báhn mi? Well it was the Vietnamese word coined for the baguette which was introduced by the French in the colonial era. The art in the báhn mi is the crispiness of the bread and the balance of the flavours inside and good báhn mi should never be overfilled.
The class is run by Ba’get owner Duh Huynh, who comes from a long line of traditional báhn mi vendors and you can tell he is excited to share his craft and business with you. It’s Ba’get’s goal to make true-to-form báhn mi and stick to what they do best, which is basically the báhn mi and vermicelli bowls. Recently praised for their báhn mi in the Herald Sun’s Best of Melbourne: Vietnamese Joints Redefine Lunch Fare column, and having been awarded the title of best place for báhn mi in the city by The Urban List, all only having opened their second store a matter of weeks ago, it seems they are on the right track.
Aproned and hatted up, we take our seats and are quickly handed a Mekong Breeze cocktail. It looks like a Mojito, but is rather infused with Vietnamese mint and coriander. I needn’t worry about trying to figure out what’s in it though, cause we get this and other recipes later on.
Then it’s onto a snack before we start, as little plates of lettuce, pickled carrot, pork and taro spring rolls and lovely little meatballs, are passed around to each of us. Duy concurrently runs through the history of the báhn mi and starts off by teaching us how to knead and roll our ready made dough.
Once our mostly misshapen lumps of dough are in the oven, we move onto making the grilled lemongrass pork and Vietnamese pickles which will form part of the filling of our báhn mi. Unlike some classes, this one is very hands on. Everyone gets their own ingredients, and everyone gets the chance to learn what and how much of each ingredient should go into the báhn mi. Waiting for our meats and breads to cook, it’s time for another cocktail – this one lovingly called the Peaceful Dragon. A gin cocktail filled with lychees and lemongrass, it’s the kick of hot chili that puts the dragon in the name.
Sadly, as you can see, I didn’t quite get the knack of rolling the dough out – I’ll let you guess which is mine, but I can at least say I have a nice stock of fresh bread for the next couple of days. And my jar of pickles.
Clearly the only recipe we don’t get to take home tonight is the one for the báhn mi, but given it’s a traditional recipe, you can forgive them that. The night ends with everyone chowing down on their goods and sipping away at a Vietnamese coffee. It was great fun and certainly fantastic value and I can only hope they run a class for the vermicelli soup bowls too.
And while it’s safe to say Ba’get won’t be hiring me any time soon, they can definitely expect to see me back in their store (there are two – one on the corner of Elizabeth & La Trobe Streets, and the other nice and close to me on Russell Street) frequently.